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The Changing Tides of Employee Engagement

August 30, 2018 Joe Mechlinski


Changing Tides of Employee Engagement

“Work isn’t supposed to be fun.”

So, goes the typical response from earlier generations when asked about the engagement crisis.

At one time, this was true. Earlier generations had limited choices when it came to work. Skills, education, location, and family connections generally determined a person’s job choice. If you lived in a coal-mining town, you seemed destined to become a miner. If your father was a banker, welcome to Wall Street. Middle-class workers with college degrees could expect a nine-to-five job at a company the person would call home for the next forty years, with every promotion and pay raise set according to a schedule. Nobody questioned these choices because people needed these jobs in order to cover basic needs—security, food, shelter.

But this structured life path isn't necessarily the case today. America has attained unprecedented levels of prosperity over the last thirty years. It's offered
 people an extraordinary liberty to choose careers and jobs that truly light them up inside.

Now the time has come to capitalize on this newfound freedom.

We do not have to accept a 70 percent disengaged workforce as a fact of life. It’s no longer a hard truth about the world. Employee engagement is a must for today’s workers.

The newest generation to enter the workforce is seizing this freedom to change the culture of work. Millennials—people born between 1981 and 1996—are well educated, value time over money, and have a refreshing perspective on what truly matters in life. They value engagement. 

Why is employee engagement important?

Because at the end of the day, when millennials look themselves in the mirror and ask, “Was today worth it?” they expect a meaningful answer.

Happily bouncing from job to job, Millennials seek what both excites them and matches their values. Some 30 percent of Millennials are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company, according to a recent Gallup report.

While the connection can tether individuals to an organization, there is a double edge sword at play. Millennials lacking this connection are quick to jump ship — with 60 percent of Millennials currently open to new job opportunities. And 36 percent stating they plan to look for a job with a different organization in the next twelve months.

Millennials need to believe the company’s mission aligns with their values. They need to believe that employee engagement ideas are real.

The science behind employee engagement

It's not just a state of mind driving this move for something greater, it's biology.

Your body’s neural network, which connects the brains in your head, heart, and gut, is constantly sending signals about what it finds helpful or harmful. These signals coordinate your actions and reactions, which allows you to learn, think, and store memories.

These events are triggered constantly - especially at work. When employees aren't invested in their work; when they're not preforming at their peak level - physically or mentally - they falter. They become unproductive, which breeds dissatisfaction, which leads to the all familiar "hop" to the next opportunity. 

It's such an underestimated factor of this staggering disengagement rate, especially among Millennials, that I've devoted my life's work to it's research. In fact, I recently released my latest book on the topic. Shift The Work debuted as a #1 New Release on Amazon and stands to be the single most powerful workplace engagement tool on the planet.

I'm excited to see how it will grow, and how the topic of employee engagement will equally evolve into a more science-based discussion. In my next post, I will explore a bit of the science behind our three brains: head, heart and gut in more detail.

Stay tuned.

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TOPICS: Employee Engagement