Employee Engagement: The Generation Game | Mercer Canada

Employee Engagement: The Generation Game

HR 2025

Employee Engagement: The Generation Game

Managing today’s workforce is a tall task. Within two years, five generations will be at work simultaneously. Longevity and worries over financial security will keep more people in work, even as younger generations join. And as the corporate ladder turns into a corporate lattice, talent management has become increasingly complex.

Many leaders and managers have more questions than answers on how to engage diverse groups of employees. How often should I recognize my millennials? What’s the best way to inspire Gen Xers and baby boomers? What do I need to know about Gen Z and the upcoming Gen Alpha workforce?

FIVE GENERATIONS WORKING SIDE BY SIDE IN 2020

  • TRADITIONALIST
    Born 1900–1945

    Great depression
    World War II
    Disciplined
    Workplace loyalty
    Move to the suburbs
    Vaccines

     

  • BABY BOOMERS
    Born 1946-1964

    Moon landing
    Civil/women’s rights
    Experimental
    Innovators
    Hard working
    Personal computers

     

  • GEN X
    Born 1965-1976

    Fall of Berlin Wall
    Gulf War
    Independent
    Free agents
    Internet, MTV, AIDS
    Mobile phones 

     

  • MILLENIALS
    Born 1977-1997
    9/11 attack
    Community service
    Immediacy
    Confident, diverse
    Social everything
    Google, Facebook
  • GEN Z
    Born after 1997
    2008 recession
    Equality
    High expectations
    Apps
    Internet of things
    Tablet devices
Mercer’s experience shows that the following model clarifies the critical factors that affect employee motivation, regardless of career or life stage. It provides the C-suite and managers with a set of guiding principles for assessing what employees want when it comes to career, health and wealth.
Factors That Build Engagement Factors That Undermine Engagement
ACHIEVEMENT
  • Meaningful work
  • Recognition
  • Career growth
  • Compelling mission
  • Micromanagement
  • Lack of feedback
  • Limited resources
  • Unclear future
CAMARADERIE
  • Partnership principles
  • Respectful dialogue
  • Supportive teams
  • Strong community
  • Poor communication
  • Destructive conflict
  • Poor internal service
  • High levels of distrust
EQUITY
  • Fair pay and benefits
  • Fair treatment
  • Transparency
  • Strong values
  • Favoritism
  • Climate of disrespect
  • Lack of accountability
  • Workload imbalance

WHAT DOES A BETTER APPROACH TO MULTIGENERATIONAL ENGAGEMENT LOOK LIKE ?

1. Start with your leaders and managers: Effective leaders understand who they are, how they behave and how they influence their team. But with limited resources and even less time, leaders face ever more elevated levels of stress. Overwhelmed leaders provide significantly less recognition and support.

2. Integrate your data: A robust workforce analytics platform can lead to clear insight and action. Whether it be through agile surveying, the personalization of engagement or infused analytics, you will have a clearer (and actionable) picture of turnover, productivity, service, profit, efficiency and stock performance.

3. Focus on performance: Do you know what drives performance in your organization? Through linkage analysis, organizations can identify the critical factors that impact performance.

4. Tap into the power of personal engagement: In most organizations, leaders, managers and HR are responsible for building a culture of engagement. What about employees? Mercer’s experience suggests they have a role to play, too.

WHO ARE GEN Z?

Born in the late 1990s, Gen Z are the ultimate entrepreneurs. Digital marketing is a given: They post social media profiles instead of CVs, and do their due diligence on potential employers online. They are also more risk-averse and globally aware. Growing up after the 2008 recession, they value financial security and companies that have a demonstrated positive impact on society.

 

WHAT GEN Z WANT?

What Gen Z want?

 

OUR LATEST RESEARCH SHOWS THAT EMPLOYEES CAN TAKE STEPS TO MANAGE THEIR OWN ENGAGEMENT


  • Reflect on the impact and value of the organization and the work


  • Communicate career needs and challenges to leadership


  • Mentor colleagues at the organization 


  • Manage your energy through personal leave, flexible scheduling and connecting with colleagues

  • Find new projects and challenges that use different skillsets or with different teams

  • Model a positive attitude despite the current challenges in the workplace

“In most organizations, leaders, managers and HR are responsible for building a culture of engagement. What about employees?”

 

WHAT COMES AFTER ENGAGEMENT?

Over the past 25 years, people have realized the importance of engagement. Engagement represents the extent to which employees are psychologically invested in their job and their organization. When employees are engaged, they work harder, stay longer and provide better customer service.

But engagement does not guarantee exceptional performance. In today’s VUCA world,12 success requires a workforce that is adaptive, resilient and evolving. The best organizations focus on expanding employees’ skills and capabilities. These organizations don’t just create an engaging work environment — they also enrich the personal assets of their employees, helping them build better careers, healthier lives and greater financial security. They create opportunities for employees to improve themselves and the world through meaningful work, compelling missions and a sense of purpose. Organizations with a thriving workforce thrive themselves: Stock performance is 11% to 16% higher in organizations with highly enthusiastic employees.

Mercer’s Talent Trends Study highlights one other important finding: Only half (54%) of employees we recently surveyed are thriving. The rest were in dull, draining or depleting jobs. This suggests that when it comes to building a thriving work environment, most organizations have a way to go.

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