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Annual Office Parties are NOT a Replacement for Purpose-Led Engagement for Women and Millennials

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder and CEO

For many years now, lavish cafeterias, pool tables, sleeping pods, and fancy office parties have been used as strategies by enterprises to reduce employee dissatisfaction and attrition. However, slowly over a period of time, enterprises have woken up to the realization that such employee engagement initiatives won’t be successful if they are conducted only at a cosmetic level.

Today, the demographics cohabiting in enterprises has changed drastically. With five generations at work, the office landscape has become a melting pot of expectations and ideologies. The dominant generation in this mix happens to be the millennials − a generation that owns the term ‘purpose−led’. A large part of this curious mix are women employees, who are now enabled and empowered and more convinced to shatter the glass ceiling than ever before.

However, while the times have changed, the demographics have changed, and the work environment has changed, we still expect to engage our purpose−led employees with the same old tricks of the occasional mammoth party.

Employee engagement and its purpose

Let’s look at a few statistics on employee engagement first.

  • Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs − Gallup
  • 42% of employees say learning and development is the most important benefit when deciding where to work followed by health insurance − Udemy
  • Millennials jobs with purpose and meaning drive them to give their best at work, benefitting the company as a whole − Deloitte
  • If a job lacks growth opportunities and avenues for leadership development, 67% of millennials will leave that position − Bridge
  • Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position − Bridge

Back in the 1970’s Gloria Steinem declared, “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry”. It’s encouraging to see women become a dominant force in today’s workplace. 40% of mothers are the primary or sole earners in the U.S.

A study by Gallup revealed that women were more engaged at work than their male counterparts.

According to a KPMG’s Women’s Study Report, “6 in 10 women (64%) aspire to be a senior leader of a company or organization in the future, and more than half (56%) of women aspire to be on the board of a company or organization”.

At this stage, it becomes critical to understand the role that encouragement plays to help women embark on the leadership track. “Women who were encouraged to be leaders growing up are more likely to aspire to be a senior leader of a company or organization (74% vs. 48%) and to aspire to be on a board of a company in the future (66% vs. 39%) than those who did not receive that encouragement growing up” the research says.

Women in the workplace want to do well. They want to succeed. And they need the policymakers and the C−Suite to understand the unique challenges they face while working on their careers. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that motivations for work have

changed. Given the kind of access employees have to networking, and the changing dynamics of how the new−age employee thinks, it’s easy to see why the annual office party just doesn’t cut it anymore.

So what attracts today’s woke employee?

Organizations need to dig deeper and stop looking at engagement as a cosmetic, fluffy activity.

Millennials and women in the workplace want ‘purpose−led’ engagement initiatives, something that will help them grow and help them to get from Point A to Point B and add greater value to their lives, both personal and professional.

They want tools which can help them navigate the challenging, competitive waters of today’s workplace.

Women, for example, make up 47% of the current workforce and are prime candidates to fill the C−suite benches. And yet, they seem to get less access to people and opportunities to accelerate their careers. If you were wondering why you should bother about this, then let’s tell you what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states. According to their research, “reaching gender parity in labor−force participation rates alone could increase the global GDP in developed countries by 12 percent over the next 20 years, equating to more than $12 trillion”.

And with millennials, the writing on the wall is pretty clear. They don’t want more cosmetic affirmations but want real, purpose−led, quantifiable, and qualitative experiences. They want a purpose to resonate in everything that they interface with?from the products they buy and the brands they work with. Loyalty has become the new currency in the language of the millennial?one that must be given only to the deserving.

The deserving, in both the cases of the millennials and the women workforce, are those who are invested in their growth story, the ones who take initiatives that help them prepare to succeed.

For the smart enterprises, this is actually a boon as it helps them prepare a purpose−led workforce to take them to success. And while pool tables and fancy office parties may continue to serve employees with the fun distraction they need, what is really needed for engaging them is mentorship.

Employees want access to tools that they need to navigate their shortfalls and overcome all hurdles that stand between them and their purpose. Unless organizations are ready to provide that, they will constantly find their employee engagement initiatives falling short of delivering the promised land of happy, fulfilled, satisfied, and productive employees.

Are you ready to develop an inclusive and supportive workplace culture, that supports leadership development at all levels? Know more about NumlyEngage™ Enterprise − a complete solution to help you build highly engaged and productive, flow−of−work teams that cross organizational silos.

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