Being engaged is something that we all delight in – a celebration of commitment and connection, and of a relationship being cemented. These are fundamental human instincts, and fundamental sources of something else that we crave: a sense of purpose and meaning. But we aren’t talking about a happy couple planning marriage, or even about life-long friendships: we mean employee engagement, something just as worthy of celebration, but also something more often longed for than experienced!
Workplace engagement is one of the business topics of our time, and endless articles voice a range of worries – frequently about the generation gaps, the needs of millennials, and the different approach that younger people take to their careers. A specific concern is with retention, and there is a common perception that millennials are more likely to move from role to role, and company to company, to climb the career ladder quickly, making recruitment a constant process in many organisations. Perhaps related to another popular view that millennials are uniquely different, there is a noticeable panic about how organisations and managers must strive to engage them.
“Perception is reality” is a familiar aphorism. Unfortunately, it’s a misquote: what Christopher Ray actually said was “Perception is merely reality filtered through the prism of your soul.” Although when it comes to ‘the millennial issue’, we might substitute ‘media’ for ‘soul’. The empirical research is less clear about the difference inherent in the millennial generation, beyond simply being a different generation – not in itself a new phenomenon.