Younger generations show ‘dramatic decline’ in engagement, Gallup says

Dive Brief:

  • The workplace has seen dramatic drops in engagement over the past few years among millennial and Generation Z workers, Gallup announced in a blog post Tuesday. The trend has been particularly pronounced among older millennials. 
  • While baby boomers are slightly more engaged, all other generations saw slides in their level of engagement. The percentage of engaged older millennials fell from 39% to 32%, while younger millennials and Gen Z fell from 40% to 35% and Generation X fell from 35% to 31%. 
  • The lack of engagement has implications for retention; Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing at Gallup, wrote in the blog post that younger workers “are increasingly more likely to be actively looking for new jobs or watching for openings.”

Dive Insight:

Gallup uses 12 factors to measure employee engagement, taking into account whether workers feel satisfied, recognized, cared for, supported and more. Among these measures, according to Gallup, millennials and Gen Z saw the greatest declines in “feeling cared about by someone at work, having opportunities to learn and grow, feeling connected to the mission of the organization, having progress discussions with managers, being given opportunities to develop, and feeling that their opinions count.”

Talent experts have been urging employers to shift their thinking on engagement since it began declining a few years ago. At a Society for Human Resource Management conference last year, Davis M. Robinson, president and CEO of Horizon Consulting Services, suggested employers focus on employee strengths and goals rather than awards and free food.

Employer approaches to engagement have been mixed over the past year; while slightly over half of organizations say employee satisfaction and emotional support are top priorities, some analysts see things differently. In fact, research and consulting firm Forrester found that employers are generally pulling back on catering to employees, leading to what could be an employee experience “winter,” according to a report the organization released in late 2023. 

For employers that are concerned, Gallup recommends establishing a clear and compelling vision of the company’s purpose and values, clarifying expectations around work arrangements, training managers to lead in a new hybrid environment and aligning learning and development opportunities with employee interests and goals.