· 2 min read · Features

Retention and engagement across generations


Employee retention and engagement remain top of the human capital issues. We are shifting towards a critical talent shortage, so what should be done to ensure the right talent is sourced, retained and motivated?

This might seem like an age-old quandary, but as each new generation enters the workplace a whole new set of values and dynamics ensues. 

Take Generation X. This is the group that are most likely looking at exit strategies from their current jobs. They will cite lack of career progress as a top exit trigger. These could be future leaders, but they are restless and on the move. Keeping them is vital, finding innovative ways of re-igniting their interest and motivation requires tailored strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. 

Millennials on the other hand exhibit quite opposing views to strong, hierarchical corporate cultures, this generation of employees are the ones taking over and they view their employer's commitment to corporate responsibility to be very important. This is the generation that is most likely drawn to a work environment that is fun.

Gone are the days where the model for a succeeding in business was built on a platform of employee conformity. It is no longer about fitting into a corporate culture, emphasis now is firmly on finding a corporate culture that suits the individual, or creating one if need be. 

Herein lies a clue, ensuring that the vision and values of a company are alive and kicking within the organisation will go a long way towards creating sustainable engagement. In fact, having a strong set of highly visible values that are embodied by employees provides the handrail that individuals now need to pull them towards an organisation. 

Which takes us back to the minefield that is the current HR landscape. These rapid shifts require a new mindset and new approaches. HR directors have been taking on more strategic roles as they move away from the transactional emphasis, which their position once required. As the need increases for HR departments to become profit centres in their own right, a new breed of HRD is emerging: one who has to have a greater overall understanding of the organisation coupled with a transformative leadership style and a visionary attitude. 

The corporate playing field is also rife with new challenges. An emphasis on short-term goals can make it difficult for an HR director to effectively structure long-term plans for engagement and motivation.

Those best prepared to weather the changes are taking a leaner approach. They are adopting the millennials' flexible and goal-oriented approach, which dovetails well with flexible working hours and remote working. The once all-important presenteeism is no longer a focal point and HRDs are increasingly empowering their workforce by focusing on goals instead. 

This new breed of HRD focuses on taking good people and making them better, ensuring the cultural fit is diverse, dynamic and regularly revised. Their role has now become transformational and more crucial than ever to an organisation's growth. HRDs should not be prevented from creating a strategic plan that addresses the short term, but has a succinctly long-term vision built into it.

Margaret Kett is a partner at Tyzack Partners and leads the human resources practice