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Business Journal
Different Demographic Groups Must Be Managed Differently
Business Journal

Different Demographic Groups Must Be Managed Differently

by Jennifer Robison

Story Highlights

  • Employers aren't maximizing highly educated employees
  • Employees are most engaged during their first six months
  • Consistently measure and assess employee engagement

Great managers have an innate ability to understand people as individuals and to position employees to make the most of their talents. Their approach improves workers' engagement and, ultimately, the company's profitability.

But according to Gallup research into demographics and engagement, factors such as age, generation, gender, education level and tenure all relate to a worker's engagement, as do an employee's job category and industry. Understanding this can make it easier for managers to put people where their engagement has the most potential to flourish.

  • Employees with a college degree have lower engagement than do workers whose education level doesn't exceed a high school diploma. This indicates that employers aren't maximizing their investment in these more highly educated employees. Companies should empower college graduates in particular to take ownership of their personal engagement. These workers have devoted considerable energy to their career by earning a degree. Managers must find ways to honor and capitalize on all that these workers have attained.
  • Engagement for millennials, Generation X and baby boomers is connected to having a strong sense of what their organization stands for. Managers should seek ways to help these employees verbalize and internalize what the company's mission and purpose means to them.
  • More so than other generations, baby boomers respond to managers who make an extra effort to show they care. Managers must keep this in mind during day-to-day interactions and find ways to communicate interest in these employees by inquiring about their work and other important aspects of their lives.
  • Generation X, millennials and baby boomers are highly engaged when they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. A good strengths assessment offers an effective way for managers to learn about their employees' greatest talents and begin positioning their people to use their strengths every day.
  • Millennials are particularly prone to job-hopping. To increase retention, companies should provide plenty of opportunities to learn and grow, which is a strong factor in engagement for this group. While nearly half of actively disengaged millennials strongly agree that they want to find new jobs, only 17% of engaged ones do.
  • Employees are as engaged as they will ever be during the first six months on the job. Companies should do everything possible to extend and intensify the engagement of these "honeymooners." Namely, consider pairing them with a workplace friend to show them the ropes, provide plenty of recognition for their early efforts and make sure their opinions are heard. These actions may help boost engagement on measures traditionally low for newer hires.
  • While engagement tends to flat-line after an employee's first six months on the job, companies with a highly engaged executive team generally see higher employee engagement among those with a tenure of 10 years or more. This finding underscores the vital importance of organizational leaders who "walk the walk" when it comes to creating an engaged workplace.
  • Consistency and perseverance are a company's best weapons against lagging engagement over the course of an employee's tenure. Companies that continuously survey their employees' engagement and make improvements based on their survey results are able to increase engagement every year at all tenure levels and particularly for workers who have been with the company 10 years or longer.

The best managers recognize that all workers have different talents, skills and experiences and need to be managed individually. But the effect of demographics on employee engagement is powerful. Managers who understand this will have a better feeling for where employees are coming from, and thus will have an easier time getting the company where it needs to go.


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