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Are you truly engaged with your employees in the way they need to be engaged?

Talent Management

Are you truly engaged with your employees in the way they need to be engaged?

October 21, 2015 Johnna Ehmke

With multi-generational workforces in play in Australia and New Zealand, employee engagement has never been more critical and never more difficult.  The motivations that drive the Baby Boomers probably sound like foreign concepts to the Millennials.  And while Millennials are prominent in today’s workforce, the Baby Boomers are still hanging around.  Baby Boomers might like to retire, but in many cases there simply are not the experienced people to backfill them. And what about Generation X?  These folk, in many cases, are our leaders today, who are navigating very confusing ground, workwise as well as experientially.    This generation has lived through hugely-dynamic social demographic changes in the world and the workplace and they are, in many cases, sandwiched between two generations of their own familial dependents – their parents and their kids.

Each of these generations is represented in our workforce and each has important contributions to make to their organisations. But each generation wears a very different lens on the world and speak almost different languages. Understanding this, and working hard with some good talent management tools available today, can make the difference between superficial interaction and true engagement across the generation gap of your organisation.      True employee engagement is the only way you can preserve the valuable human capital, which elevates your company from your competitors. The lack of true engagement can leave your organisation vulnerable to losing your most important resource – your good people.  This is expensive and dangerous.

So how do we define true engagement?  Engagement is the emotional connection employees have to their organisation.  Highly engaged employees believe in what they’re doing, feel a sense of ownership and will deliver more than what’s required in their roles.  The disengaged employees do not really care and might even turn toxic.   As we have seen there is a frightening 60% of employees in Australia and New Zealand, who are not engaged and 16% are actively disengaged.   [1]

Typically, what forges an emotional connection or motivates a Baby Boomer is very different to their Generation X or Millennial colleague.  As an example, your typical Baby Boomer is much more grounded in the “work hard” ethic, and expects a resulting title or status. Their Generation X colleague, on the other hand, tends to “work to live” rather than “live to work”.  Then you have the more sophisticated Millennial, who tends to be more societally aware due to their plentiful access to information on the Web.  These are the colleagues who want to serve a higher purpose and to know that what they are doing is meaningful and valued.

For many companies in Australia and New Zealand, employee engagement is seen as “nice to have” at best – especially in smaller organisations. These organisations are happy to subscribe to other business management and governance software applications, but the majority spend little time and money on people management applications. It is puzzling since people are still at the heart of doing business.  Even as technology enables business transactions, it is still your people, behind the technology, who make the difference to the customer outcomes.  This needs to change.

Cornerstone OnDemand specialises in talent management and learning and development tools for small business which enable you to work towards true engagement with your team, in their language. 

Have a look at this Generations Infographicto gain more insight into the generational differences.


[1] State of the Global Workplace Report, 2013, Gallup

About Johnna Ehmke


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