How to engage the Millennial

A master class on employee engagement for Business Studies students

Nearly 200 Cass Business Studies students had the chance to listen to Wayne Clarke – an expert on employee engagement from the Global Growth Institute.  The masterclass was part of the Management of Human Resources module on the Undergraduate programme.

Clarke began his career at Deloitte and went on to help BDO, the fifth largest accounting network, to achieve a top 20 ranking in The Sunday Times Best Companies lists.  He then spent five years as the managing and international partner of the advisory arm of Best Companies, who produce The Sunday Times lists.

The concept of employee engagement has become increasingly mainstream in management thinking over the last decade, particularly in the field of people management which advocates a ‘mutual gains’ employment relationship, creating a win-win for employees and their employers.

“It is especially relevant to understand what employee engagement is given the specific expectations and work values of a millennial generation known for their over-dependence on technology and who are often misunderstood by the older generation” says module leader Dr Joanna Zaleska of Cass Business School.

“Their vigour, enthusiasm, intellectual effort and concentration is needed in the workplace so it is vital that phrases used in employee engagement rhetoric such as ‘going the extra mile’, ‘feeling valued’ and ‘passion for work’, resonate with tech savvy millennials and are not just empty words”.

During the session numerous examples of companies with good and bad engagement practices were shared with students as well as recent rankings of the most desired employers in UK and US.

Guest speaker Wayne Clarke told students: “The growth and profit of companies, is significantly impacted by how engaged their people are. The evidence is compelling and organisations with higher engagement levels posted total shareholder returns 22% higher than average. People represent, in most cases, the single biggest ‘expenditure’ for companies. Maximising the return on this expenditure is key. If companies get this right, if they are able to truly leverage the skills and commitment of their people, then the results really speak for themselves”.

The challenge of significantly improving engagement levels within organisations cannot be underestimated and this relies on the ability of the board, leaders, managers and front line employees to change their fundamental practices or behaviours. This session provided students with an overview of employee engagement through practical case studies of real companies and real leaders. Students had a chance to learn about employee engagement – what it is and what it’s not, the role of leadership and management in engagement and how developing people impacts on attrition and overall employee experience.