This is the second in a three-part blog series exploring how businesses can adapt to a millennial workforce. In the first part of this blog, we discussed the purpose of adapting to a millennial workforce and the role of culture. We will now explore the importance of engaging and empowering employees, no matter their generation.
Employee engagement is the emotional connection an employee feels toward their employment organization. Good, bad or indifferent, this connection carries tremendous weight. If an employee believes in their organization’s actions and goals, and that their work makes a difference, they will naturally want to work smarter. Engaged employees will give 100%, but this is not necessarily achieved by working harder. Similarly, hard workers may stay at the office from six in the morning until nine at night, but they may not be fully engaged as a direct result, nor will they automatically be more effective.
Shared goals can be a great way to drive engagement and buy in, but it can be tempting to set lofty goals that may not be attainable. Unrealistic goals can have the reverse effect, burning out employees and resulting in disengagement. Instead, by setting corporate goals that can be achieved by every member of your organization, you are likely to watch your team join together in a collaborative group effort to be successful.
Today’s workers—Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers—want to put time and effort into their work and be successful both inside and outside the office. I am a big believer in working smart and putting in the time it takes to get my work done, but I’m also a big believer in family and personal time. If I don’t take the time to be successful at both, I will be a failure at all. As such, I expect the same from my team. I don’t want them to come in early and stay late each night, because extra hours don’t translate to better results. I do expect them to meet their goals and fulfill their personal commitments, as they will be more engaged and more cognizant of what needs to be done as a result.
In my experience, all of the above translated to a shared understanding. I told my team to do right by the customer, get the job done and, at the same time, push themselves to learn something new and to work together. The team became engaged, they worked together, pushed boundaries and tried new things in order to change the game for themselves and the company. My team was able to do this because they were also empowered and had input and control over their work.
If this doesn’t seem clear, think back to a job in which you were assigned tasks, and would come in each day knowing exactly what needed to be done. A job where you had exactly eight hours to complete your work and communicated via phone, not email.
Now imagine a company that works with its employees to help them understand the business objectives and roadmap, as well as how their work affects the rest of the organization and its ability to be successful. Imagine a team that not only knows what they need to get done, but one that also proactively comes up with the best ways to do it. This is an empowered team.
The third blog in this series will discuss how employee engagement and empowerment fuel collaboration.