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Looking back at your last week, how often were you fully engaged at work? What factors caused you to be more (or less) motivated at work?

A lack of employee engagement is becoming a recurring issue within American companies. But what about employee engagement on a global level? According to a new study by The Marcus Buckingham Company, the U.S. and China are tied for having the most engaged employees, while Argentina and Spain have the lowest percentage of engaged workers.

Despite having the most engaged employees globally, China and the U.S. lead the employee engagement percentage only by 6%, with 19% fully engaged employees. In addition, a recent Gallup study found the incoming workforce—Millennials—are the least engaged of all generations. Gallup explains why this is the case:

“Although the economy is improving, workers in this generation may not be getting the jobs they had hoped for coming out of college. Gallup’s employee engagement data reveals Millennials are particularly less likely than other generations to say they have the opportunity to do what they do best’ at work. This finding suggests that Millennials may not be working in jobs that allow them to use their talents and strengths, thus creating disengagement.”

How can organizations fight this global disengaged epidemic, especially among Millennials?

Career development

Career development is a great way to not only engage employees, but recognize, motivate, and retain them as well. For managers, the best way to start career development plans with employees is to meet with them individually and learn more about their talents, what areas they would like to improve in, and their long-term career goals. Below are questions managers and employees should consider regarding career development:

  • What do you hope to accomplish within your career overall?
  • What goals do you have with your job position and with the organization?
  • What areas do you struggle with?
  • Would you benefit from additional training/mentoring?
  • What improvements would you like to see?
  • How do you plan on accomplishing your career goals?

At the very least, this meeting should identify what skills employees want to develop as well as create an action plan of when and how these skills will be developed. Taking the time to meet with employees shows appreciation on the organization’s behalf which translates into better work and increased employee satisfaction.

After meeting with employees, it’s important that managers give them the resources they need. From training programs, to mentorships and accessibility to conferences, there are various ways employees can grow within their industry. At the end of the day, however, it’s the employees who are ultimately in charge of their development and growth within the organization.

Find meaning in the work

In addition to career development, employees must also feel their work is meaningful and fulfilling to them.

Consider what Mark Guterman, principal of, said, “Striving for meaning is a natural evolution in our work lives, as increasing numbers of people dig deep for satisfaction, alignment, and purpose. This effort requires clarifying what is most important to us, a high degree of discipline to build those values into our work and lives, a willingness to be vulnerable, the capacity to take full responsibility for our behavior and efforts, and most of all, the strength to walk a path of our own choosing.”

Although inspiration may seem difficult to achieve, employees can find meaning in their work through various ways. From taking initiative in work-related tasks to leading meetings and teaching employees new skills, finding meaning can greatly impact the work they do. On the other hand, employees can also take advantage of activities outside of work. Fulfilling extracurricular goals can positively influence many aspects of work and the employees’ overall wellbeing. Furthermore, embracing the meaning of work can lead to strengthening company culture and employee relationships. But again, employees know best how to achieve this, and ultimately, the responsibility for finding meaning in their work rests with them.

All in all, career development and meaningful work can pave the way for improved employee engagement in both national and international companies.

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