Inspiring Employee Engagement – An Evolving Workplace

The first blog in this series presented some sobering numbers with respect to employee engagement. Only 33% of U.S. workers are engaged while 38% are fully disengaged. Those not classified in either category are, at best, tepid about their jobs. Gallup tells us that 60% of Millennials in the U.S. workforce say they are currently looking for a new job opportunity.

An Evolving Workplace

I previously defined some potential sources of inspiration. Every organization has a distinct culture. However, a culture with engaged employees features committed and creative leadership.

The core of the issue is recognizing how the workplace has evolved and determining the best way to respond to this evolution. It is assumed that many of these changes have occurred as a result of retiring baby boomers and a growing percentage of millennials in the work force. It goes beyond the millennials’ expectations and underscores the influence millennials have on all demographics of the workforce.  I will briefly touch on three such practices.

Ongoing Conversations In lieu of Annual Reviews

The expectation over the years has been evaluation through annual reviews. This was the method by which employee performance was assessed. These reviews originated long before the term employee engagement was recognized. Annual performance reviews were more about promotions and raises than about employee growth and satisfaction.

Today the concept of annual reviews has been replaced by ongoing conversations. In fact, there have been a stream of articles calling for the extinguishment of the annual review. In today’s environment ongoing conversations are more logical. They provide timely feedback instead of a discussion about an event that took place 11 months prior. They are also designed to allow for a ready exchange of ideas which promotes growth opportunities and as a bi-product can enhance employee engagement.

Balanced Life In lieu of Job Identity

Another example of evolution in the workplace has to do with the importance of an individual’s job. In the past the job defined the person. It was once considered a source of identity and the dominant contributor to purpose in one’s life. Today the importance of a job has been replaced by the concept of a complete life. Values Aligned Goal Setting© stresses the importance of the balanced life concept.

Today’s workforce wants to be known more for the “whole person” and not just by a single facet of their life. The presumed result of this is increased employee engagement by those who want to be understood for having multi-faceted lives.

Happiness In lieu of Success

The third issue is the concept of success as being the target. This also appears to be a thing of the past. Prior eras defined success as the target and the presumption was, once achieved, an individual could be happy. Shawn Achor in “The Happiness Advantage” has cast a new light on the subject. His (and others) conclusion is that happiness is the target and success come as a result of being happy. Success is now thought to be primarily intrinsic, a feeling that comes from within. In many circumstances there is no metric tied to success, “I feel I am a successful parent.” Happiness is the driver, success is a bi-product.

It may well be that millennials are the impetus for these types of changes. However, the reality is that all generations are being impacted by the current model and one of the chief targets of this model is increased employee engagement and the resultant benefits.

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