Generations and Engagement

Increasing employee engagement has become one of the most important tasks for employers in recent years. Not only global trends, but also domestic trends show that turnover and retention tools are becoming a growing focus for organisations to address.

Clearly it is important that employers should focus on creating a culture of respect where everyone is valued in order to effectively engage different generations of employees. Whilst it is also important for organisations and employers to understand what makes each generation unique, strategies can be put in place to support the engagement of different generations, in turn employers can create an environment where everyone feels valued and appreciated for their contribution.

According to HR Evolution experts, the current problem is that while wellbeing is declining globally, many companies are not yet able to "keep up" with the new, changed mindset of employees, or even manage it. Examples include employee expectations around health and work-life balance. In addition, people are increasingly sensitive to whether they are receiving genuine support from their employers.

"The workplace, if it can only provide enough to survive, is far from being enough to engage. In fact, even just feeling safe in the workplace is not enough to trigger long-term commitment,"

HR Evolution's work and organisational psychologist tells Connect Magazine. According to Nikolett Tóth, it is also important that

"an employer should also respond to the need to belong and to provide as much as possible an engaging vision for employees".

Labour shortages: increasing need to employ generations not yet included  

With the continued tightening of the labour market in recent years, employers are now attracting a wider range of people, such as students and retired people, and there may even be increasing opportunities for people with disabilities, alongside public incentive schemes.

"The more diverse a group is, the higher the chance of conflict, but there is also a huge potential when several social groups work together,"

points out Nikolett Tóth, who says that while people with disabilities are typically very loyal, younger people, students, are already familiar with digitalisation and are able to work at a fast pace, older people, retired people, can add stability to the company's operations.

At the same time, of course, it is also clear that the perceptions of different generations - even empirically - often tend to be biased. While Generation Z is typically perceived to be disloyal and otherwise lazy, the work and organisational psychologist says this could well become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"We recently had an online leadership programme where the leaders couldn't say a single positive thing about this generation, only negative, but a lot of...

Imagine a Generation Z starting in a new workplace with only negative prejudice against them! How will they feel?

- it is the key question asked by the CEO of HR Evolution. Katalin Csikós-Nagy goes on to say that if the perception of retirees is that they can't keep up or can't use a computer, this can further undermine engagement and in many cases these employees don't even get a chance.

Generation Z and the inextricable dynamics of engagement?

While some of the generations currently available in the labour market show stronger or less strong engagement, it is clear that Generation Z is the most difficult in this respect.

When engaging Baby Boomers in the workplace, it is important to recognise their experience and value their loyalty. Employers should focus on providing them with meaningful work that challenges them but also recognises their achievements. Boomers also value personal interactions, so employers should strive to meet with them regularly to discuss progress and feedback.

In engaging the great "freedom fighters" Generation X in the workplace, it is important to recognise and acknowledge their aspirations for independence and to give them autonomy. They are capable of commitment, but as if we were "walking on eggs" we need to give them the freedom to be challenged in a competitive environment, because in many cases they can only deliver with passion. Generation X is the first age group who are digitally literate and have the ability and desire to learn continuously.

To engage Generation Y and Z, we need to recognise their ambition and optimism. These are the two generations whose employees particularly value collaboration, a positive and supportive workplace atmosphere and feedback from managers.

"Of course, openness and acceptance are important here too. Every generation has its strengths and not all people can be 'shoehorned' into a generation. In this way it is important to see the person and their strengths. Give everyone a chance. Without prejudices",

- says Nikolett Tóth.

Z: the new generation of future leaders?

If we look at the uniqueness of Generation Z compared to the others, we may wonder what kind of leaders they will become, as they have a noticeably different approach to work.

"What they certainly bring to the corporate culture is a relaxed attitude and new perspectives. They are fast, but they are also often less persistent than previous generations, but that is more due to the fact that they don't tolerate it. They are aware of their values and if they are not appreciated somewhere, they change almost immediately,"

- explains the HR Evolution expert. However, Nikolett Tóth adds that, in her opinion,

"neither generation is worse than the other, and it is important to see their values. Generation Z leaders, in my opinion, don't take themselves too seriously, while it's important for them to be connected. My experience is that they want to be very efficient, so they value time off and they set boundaries and stand up for themselves more".

So the question is whether the new generation of leaders that will emerge in a few years' time will be able to influence the current leadership culture.

HR Evolution's work and organisational psychologist believes that, for all its quirks and newness, or perhaps because of it, Generation Z is the most credible generation to date, because they no longer have a problem communicating about work-life balance or salaries, for example.

"If we take this into account, we can roughly predict that Generation Z will have a more self-identified mindset and actions, which will be reflected in their leadership attitudes, and will therefore be able to build a more honest organisation."

– adds Nikolett Tóth.

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