Things have come a long way since the business world’s first employee engagement scheme was launched in 1771, by shipbuilder William Denny in a Glasgow shipyard.

In today’s increasingly competitive business environment the winners will be those that find a way to successfully engage the digital natives of Generation Y.

Kevin Kruse defined employee engagement as:

the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.’

It’s this emotional attachment to an organisation that creates loyalty and pride.

Today’s increasingly different workforce has energy, a thirst for knowledge, and craves social interaction.

Things are looking up since the 2008 financial crisis, with increasing career mobility once again high lighting the importance of gaining emotional commitment from employees.

What Generation Y may lack in extensive experience, they make up for with an impressive skill set, and once employers have spent time and money recruiting the best they want to keep the best.

You’ve invested a lot into recruiting and training staff only for them to up and leave because they have no emotional attachment to your organisation. After all they are the future.

So what happens once the honeymoon period is over?

Captivating the imaginations of employees and using tools that will look to deeply embed the core values of an organisation will go a long way to help.

Gone are the days that paper vouchers or cash will hit the spot. Sure they might temporarily put a smile on the employee’s face, but organisations benefit greatly from truly fulfilling the needs of this generation by giving recognition and rewards that are relevant.

So now that I’ve highlighted the importance of engaging this generation you’ll be thinking “yeah, ok great, but how?”

Well it’s simple; only through understanding the wants and needs of this generation and an organisation can we move forward more effectively. There is a lot of research into the wants and needs of this generation; here are a few ideas to get started:

Appeal to their inner social media guru

Educate – include an e-learning element to an employee engagement scheme because after all knowledge = power

Give rewards that are meaningful – digital rewards or virtual pre-paid cards give instant gratification, whilst incentive travel trips provide the perfect end to a sales incentive

Introduce employee wellness elements – it’s proven that healthy employees are more productive and enjoy their jobs the most.

We’ve written about employee wellness here at officevibe

Provide online/cloud based solutions – ensuring engagement schemes are easily accessible

Along with these are the basics, such as the importance of saying ‘thank you’. Mark Zuckerberg recently set himself a challenge of writing at least one thank you note every day via e-mail or hand written letter.

This kind of exercise still goes a long way to boosting moral.

There are many benefits to implementing an online employee engagement scheme. The key to success is treating your workforce as individuals, (bespoke solutions can help with this), providing relevant and timely recognition and rewards by tapping into inner passions, and enhancing the employee experience during every day working life.

An effective strategy, mixed with a little fun makes for a happy and productive workforce.

Engaging Generation Y employees won’t just help to boost retention but will also help you thrive in an increasingly competitive business environment.

Is It Worth It To Engage Gen Y Employees?

Now it’s your turn. What do you think is the best way to engage various generations? Let me know in the comments.