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HCM Strategy Director at Oracle @axcampbe
It’s a common question asked at an interview or during employee performance reviews: “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” For a large proportion of young workers today, an honest response is likely to be “Working somewhere else”.
According to Deloitte’s fifth annual employee survey, almost half of millennials say they expect to quit their current job in the next two years, and two thirds say they’ll have moved on from their present employer by 2020.
We all know young people rarely enter the workforce expecting the “job for life” that was the badge of honour for some of their parents, and certainly their grandparents, but these latest figures are particularly alarming.
That said, while Deloitte’s findings might suggest there is a relative lack of loyalty among millennials – an issue I’ll leave to their employers to discuss – what the problem really comes down to is a lack of engagement.
Young people rarely enter the workforce expecting the “job for life” that was the badge of honour for some of their parents.
There has certainly been much talk around employee engagement as of late, but it’s worth questioning what an engaged workforce really means for the business and why it’s so important, especially in light of findings from Oracle’s own Simply Talent: a Western European Perspective study which revealed that only a third of UK workers feel engaged at work.
Engagement may seem a somewhat woolly concept, but employees today see it is as central to their job satisfaction and overall productivity. Well over half of respondents to our survey said that feeling engaged makes them more productive, and crucially over 40% said it would make them less likely to look for work elsewhere.
It’s worth questioning what an engaged workforce really means for the business and why it’s so important.
These findings should serve as a wake-up call to employers that the impact of engagement is both very real and substantial. Encouragingly, there is no reason why any organisation can’t improve its employee engagement approach. One need only look at employees’ own thoughts on what makes them feel more engaged for inspiration:
From my own conversations with young people, millennials certainly want to feel their company recognises their individual achievements and contributions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also want to work on projects that excite them personally and that challenge them to develop the skills and interests they value most.
Many businesses are unclear on who is actually accountable for improving engagement in their organisation.
Of course, for the company and line managers to deliver on these expectations, someone needs to take ownership of employee engagement and drive these initiatives. And while workers most often turn to their peers and line managers to feel more engage, many businesses are unclear on who is actually accountable for improving engagement in their organisation.
I’ve said before that the HR department is best placed to effectively implement and manage the company’s engagement strategies, and now I’ll say it again. With the insight talent analytics can provide them on how employees are performing and on what issues affect their happiness and productivity, HR have the knowledge and expertise required to become ambassadors for a more strategic approach to engagement in the boardroom.
It’s certainly too much to expect this approach will see the workforce return to the “job for life” mentality of generations past, but those organizations that take measures to keep employees happy, motivated and, most importantly, engaged certainly stand the best chance of keeping their best and brightest young workers on board for longer.