EngagementHRD CoLab Chicago: Elevating Engagement: Adopting the Millennial Mindset with Jill Christensen
HRD CoLab Chicago: Elevating Engagement: Adopting the Millennial Mindset with Jill Christensen
Jill Christensen, employee engagement expert, best-selling author, Top 101 employee engagement influencer and host of our HRD CoLab on October 10th in Chicago, gives you her top tips for real and effective employee engagement in an ever-changing workplace.
In an increasingly diverse workforce, characterised by the coming together of mindsets from many different generations and backgrounds, how can HR and people leaders elevate their engagement to get the best out of every single colleague in the workplace?
HRD Connect sat down with Jill Christensen to get the low down on what defines real and effective engagement, and why adopting the millennial mindset is so crucial to making engagement a succcess.
How do you define real and effective engagement?
Engagement occurs when workers trust leaders and feel a strong emotional connection to your company – the same way they did their first day on the job. When an employee is engaged, you have captured both their head and their heart, which compels them to go above and beyond the call of duty and give you 110 percent discretionary effort.
What do you think are the primary barriers to engagement facing HR and people leaders today?
The primary barrier is the fact that organizations are approaching employee engagement incorrectly. Most outsource engagement to HR and expect them to improve the culture, but this does not work. Why? Because although HR ‘owns’ employee engagement, it doesn’t ‘own’ the people who have the greatest impact on employee engagement – your frontline managers. Your CEO owns your frontline managers and can get them to do things that HR cannot. For this reason, in order to drive massive levels of employee engagement, HR’s role is to engage the CEO – who will engage managers – in the culture change journey.
What is the ‘millennial mindset’ and why is it so crucial to engagement? My take on this is different than most. Every one of your employees is a human being and at their core, human beings are wired the same way and have similar needs. What’s different about Millennials is they are very vocal about their needs and if you don’t meet them, they may quit on you. Generations who came before the Millennials were less likely to quit – even though their needs were not being met in the workplace – because they placed a high value on loyalty and familiarity. Millennials tend to value things like autonomy, convenience, choices, belonging, work/life balance, and experiences.
How do you predict engagement will change in the near future?
Thanks to employee retention issues, I think organizations are going to wake up and see that what they’ve been doing to increase engagement (outsourcing the issue to HR) does not work. So I predict that ownership of employee engagement will shift from HR to leaders and frontline managers, because this is the only way it’s going to improve.
What would be your top tips for HR and people leaders wishing to transform engagement in their organisations, but haven’t the faintest idea of where to start?
First, engage someone in your senior leadership team to champion employee engagement. That person needs to stand up and say to all employees, “Our culture is not where it needs to be, but together, we’re going to improve it.” Then, that senior leader needs to give managers a list of specific actions that they need to do with their teams to increase employee engagement.
The definition of culture is how we do things here, so in order to change your culture, managers need to consistently do things here differently tomorrow than they are doing here today. What should the manager list include? I recommend brainstorming specific actions for them, such as recognizing at least one employee a day, conducting focus group to tap into the thoughts and minds of team members, putting toxic or incompetent employees on an improvement plan and terminating those who do not improve, and conducting monthly or quarterly formal performance management conversations.