Employee engagement plays a key role in fostering productivity. It conveys a sense of the connection employees have to their organization as well as the passion they have for their work.
A lot of focus in recent years has centered on ways to better manage and engage the youngest generation in the workforce, Generation Y. But according to the latest research from Gallup, baby boomers have the lowest level of engagement. What’s more, Gallup research shows that baby boomers have the highest level of active disengagement.
Here are five ways talent leaders can increase baby boomer employees’ engagement:
Pay attention to selection from the beginning: Person-job fit and person-organization fit should not be ignored. Individuals have different personalities and values, and they should be in alignment with the job requirements and organizational culture. Baby boomer employees would be more engaged if there is congruence with their identity and that of their organization.
Show them that you care: Baby boomers respond to managers who make the extra effort to show that they care, according to the most recent Gallup report on engagement. Organizational leaders should develop their emotional intelligence and find ways to connect with baby boomer employees. It is also important to show consideration through the development of initiatives that would alleviate work-related — and life-related — difficulties they may encounter. Leaders should also encourage participation from baby boomers. They should know that their input is valued.
Celebrate performance: Organizations should make a concerted effort to reward the performance of all employees, and they should ensure that their more senior “stars” do not go unnoticed. Monetary rewards, title changes and open recognition show baby boomers their contributions are appreciated by the company.
Encourage and provide opportunities for learning and development: Baby boomers may experience increased engagement if they have more opportunities for growth, development and advancement. Leaders need to recognize any barriers — family responsibilities, inconvenient schedules, low self-efficacy — that may impede full benefit from learning programs and find ways to make these opportunities more accessible to employees.
Establish mentorship programs: Organizations should consider establishing mentorship programs where baby boomers can serve the company by mentoring younger employees. If selected, this is also a form of recognition. In addition, the formal — and informal — mentorship programs would afford some of the baby boomer employees the chance to better understand members of Generation X and Y. This has the potential to be a powerful learning opportunity for members of all generations involved.
In the end, organizations can be more successful if they increase employee engagement levels, with generational differences taken into consideration. Baby boomers are still present in the workforce, and their engagement depends on organizational support and recognition.
Leon C. Prieto is an assistant professor of management at Clayton State University.Simone T. A. Phipps is an assistant professor of management at Middle Georgia State College. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.