When we talk about successful employee engagement, we usually talk about strategies that work for different generations—Boomers, Gen X and, of course, Millennials. And given that we have a multi-generational workforce these days, each having its own preferences and styles, viewing engagement from a generational perspective makes sense. But let’s not lose sight of something that’s equally important: the employee lifecycle.
When recognition and rewards are keyed to where the employee is in terms of their career lifecycle, and combined with proven engagement drivers for their generational place, we significantly boost engagement. Think about this: The 40-year-old Gen X employee who is entering the workforce for the first time, or re-entering after a decade or more away, might respond positively to the same engagement strategies as the Millennial who is just entering the workforce. Both are essentially “newbies,” despite their generational differences.
Then there’s prospective employees. Regardless of age, their status as potential candidates—where they are in the employee life cycle–demands a particular engagement strategy, combined with sensitivity to the influence of generational differences.
Let’s look at the employee life cycle and highlight a few engagement strategies that work best for each:
- Recruitment. Successful recruitment begins with your own employees. More than two-thirds of new employee referrals come from existing employees. The more engaged your current employees, the stronger your recruitment efforts.
- So your culture is a huge recruitment tool. Your employees will talk about it. And social media will amplify it. A top notch culture attracts top talent. If you haven’t assessed your culture recently, it might be time for another look.
- Onboarding. Yes, as older boomers enter pre-retirement years, you’ll need to draw Millennials into your development pipeline. But you’ll also need senior talent as older boomers transition for planning to retire to actually doing it. Senior talent requires vastly different engagement tactics, beginning with the onboarding process.
- Early career. This is a critical juncture for employees and employers. Research shows that engagement levels drop steeply at about five years into the job. This is also the time when employees are eager to move ahead, so career development is critical. Support for employees’ continuing education, whether through in-house training or time-off and monetary reimbursement for external education and professional development, is a powerful engagement strategy. You invest in them, they will invest in you.
- Mid-career. By mid-career, most employees have developed the experience and a level of expertise that makes them attractive to other organizations. The challenge is to retain this valuable talent pool when the siren song of other opportunities calls out. Career development is still important, but meaningful work is now taking center stage. Smart engagement of mid-career employees responds to this need.
- Pre-retirement. Trying to engage employees who may already have one foot out the door can be hard, but it is doable. Some employees welcome the opportunity to pass on their institutional knowledge, and creating mentorships that enable them to do this keeps them engaged with the workplace. Offering retirement planning and transition-focused workshops also keep the pre-retirement crowd engaged with your organization. Recognition that acknowledges each “pre-retiree’s” unique contribution to the organization—and not a 20-years-of-service award—is deeply appreciated at this point.
I hope I’ve stimulated your thinking about looking at engagement from another angle. We’ll be following up with more detailed posts that take a deeper look at engagement at each stage of the employee’s workplace life cycle.
Are you ready to re-visit your workforce engagement program? Or are you thinking of a more flexible platform or incentives that give employees maximum choice? Talk to a Marketing Innovators solutions expert about PPM Express and MIStyle Award Voucher to see how we can help you.
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