• Work engagement: Millennial expectations of inclusion and concrete tips for managers

    October 09, 2017 by

     

    To engage at work, an entry-level employee needs a lot of support at first. Managers play a crucial role in work engagement, and it isn’t an easy job. Two talent acquisition experts share their advice here on how to engage new hires, how that relates to inclusion, and what employers can do to retain their talent. In part one of this conversation, we discussed how engagement impacts the bottom line, and how to measure it.

    Watch our discussion here, or read the takeaways in the blog below.

     

    Janine Truitt is Chief Innovations Offer at Talent Think Innovations, and Alexandra Levit is a workplace consultant and author of the new book “Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next.”

    Engaging managers check in with entry-level employees very, very often

    Truitt says that entry-level employees “come in with a set of high expectations. And so for that reason, in the very beginning, accountability to engage them falls more on the employers, specifically a manager, to touch base with them very, very often.” She contrasts today’s entry-level employees’ expectations with those of older workers. They don’t want to do grunt work just to pay their dues “the way we used to when we were kids,” she says. Instead, millennials “want to do meaningful work and make a contribution right away, and so we have to make sure that we are setting reasonable goals that allow them to do that.”

    Managers should meet often with entry-level employeesTo engage entry-level employees, managers must be willing to touch base with them very frequently. As Levit puts it, “no news is bad news. If they don’t hear from their manager a lot, then it means they’re doing a bad job.”

    Employees are also responsible. “The employee is responsible because they decide how they want to show up daily,” says Levit. “That is to say, if you are unhappy with the circumstances, you have options. Speak up and be heard. Allow for, and provide, a solution—or find a new place of work, understanding that it isn’t the right fit for you.” For entry-level employees, the onus is more on the manager, but “as tenure goes on, it becomes more of a shared accountability.”

    “Tour of duty” hires may increase work engagement

    Levit likes the idea of hiring entry-level or young professionals on for a term commitment. For example, each hire might agree to a three year “tour of duty”, to use LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman’s language. During that time, the employee and manager both agree on specific goals that will further their career and the organization. “It’s an understanding that you are going to be accountable during that time. But once that project is done or once the goal is accomplished, you then have to choose again. Do you want to find another project within the organization or do you want to leave?”

    This practice is a new way of looking at this. Levit thinks it’s great for the younger workers who know they won’t stay at an organization for 20 years, like their parents did.

    Engagement and inclusion go hand in hand, but millennials think your inclusion plan is strange.

    Inclusion means that different people can “show up as they are,” says Levit, “and be heard, seen, respected, and valued.” If everyone in the C-suite is invested in a set of values that allow people to be great when they come to work, says Levit, “I’m not sure that a plan is needed.”

    Companies who care about their employees’ well-being, including their lives outside of work hours, “tend to squelch the employee engagement crisis by focusing on the whole of the person.”

    For inclusiveness to positively impact engagement, it has to be about more than just getting a bunch of diverse individuals in a room. Those individuals have to be heard.

    Work engagement for millennials is inclusiveEntry-level employees, adds Levit, find the idea of an inclusion plan very strange. They question its authenticity and wonder why inclusion isn’t just “a regular part of what everybody’s doing.” Resources like affinity groups that many employers see as best practice in inclusion, don’t resonate with millennials. For them, says Levit, inclusion should be a given. You should be able to walk into the lobby of an organization and see all different types of people that have different experiences, expressing different perspectives.

    If your entry-level employees don’t feel they can express their perspectives, and that their opinions are valued, then they will not be happy with their organization, and will disengage. This is something that managers have to adjust to, “especially baby boomers who are more used to having young professionals basically keep their mouth shut until they’re in a position of authority,”

    What’s missing is individualized attention

    Ultimately, says Truitt, “if your goal is to be profitable and be the best in your industry, then you want anybody—whomever they may be—to come into your organization and help you achieve that goal.” She agrees that there is too much emphasis on surface identities because that doesn’t address real inclusion. You shouldn’t spend all your time calculating how many Blacks, how many women, and how many differently-abled hires have you made. That’s the wrong focus, and millennials get that intuitively. They don’t want to be identified by some protected class.

    Join the group to hear more talent acquisition advice

     

    What’s missing is individualized attention to people. “We can make really good statements all day about Gen-Xers. We can make blanket statements about Gen-Y. Ultimately, however, they’re not true of everybody,” says Truitt. And there’s no checklist for all the possible differences that people bring into your organization. The solution has to be treating everyone as an individual. “When they walk through the door we’re going to treat them as such and treat their needs and their wants and their motivations as such.”

    In Levit’s research with the Career Advisory Board, they have found recently that “it’s a myth that people don’t want to stay with organizations, that they want to jump around from place to place,” says Levit. If they are satisfied and they feel valued, they want to stay. Like any human beings, your entry-level employees like reliability and stability. So if your company demonstrates that you care, they’re going to want to stay there.

    Also read: Touch points during an employee’s tenure that can tell a story of engagement 

    Examples of companies that engage well

    1. Microsoft. Truitt points out how much she loves Microsoft’s tagline. It is Come as you are. Do what you love. This is engagement in a sentence.

    2. Not many, actually. When you look at the numbers that 87% of people are disengaged globally understanding, we see that no one is doing this particularly well, Levit points out.

    3. Netflix is an example, says Truitt, of a company that takes engagement seriously. They don’t want disengaged employees to linger and influence their environment. They have policies that essentially say, “hey, if doesn’t work for you anymore we’ll actually pay you to leave. Rather than have you sit here and be disengaged and drag down the workforce.” With a policy like that, people who stay tacitly opt in to engage. It’s a mental agreement where they decide to stay because they want to be there.

    4. Companies who care. In Truitt’s consulting work, she finds that the companies that achieve high engagement are “the ones that not only care about what they get out of people at work, but how their people are doing outside of work.” They care about their kids, their health and personal hardship.

    [Video]: How GSE succeeds in engaging their entry level employees

    Concrete tips for managers to engage entry-level employees today

    Tip for managers to increase work engagement

    1. Leaders should listen more than they speak. There is nothing worse than a manager who loves to hear themselves speak and believes they are the brightest person in the room.

    2. When there a small to complex issues to sift through encourage your team to offer up ideas either individually or as a collective. Ensure that there is a myriad of ways that team members can contribute their thoughts.

    3. Often times, the employees who are more vociferous by nature get to shine because they are first to speak up and the boldest. Create a safe space for the more introverted employee who may have great ideas, but do better in sharing ideas in a one-on-one environment.

    4. Don’t just ask for feedback, try to incorporate it.

    5. Customize career goals for each individual and map them to the big picture.

    6. Be accessible and talk to employees about what’s going right, not just when something is going wrong.

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