How demographic factors affect employee engagement
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How demographic factors affect employee engagement

2nd May 2018

There are multiple factors that can have an impact on employee engagement within a business. Some of the variations you may see in employee engagement are not simply down to how successful your engagement strategy is, or how well it's being implemented by line managers. Quite often these variations can be a result of demographic factors, such as age and length of service.


While many of these factors are subjective, dictated by individual history or circumstance, research has shown us there are some common themes when it comes to whether some people are more likely to engage at work than others.


What causes variations in employee engagement?

Generational differences

Employees born since 1980 (Generation Y) are likely to be the least engaged in the workplace. Research by global consulting firm Blessing White found that around 25% of Generation Y is disengaged all over the world (with the exception of India). Low levels of seniority are identified as a likely cause of this. Other research has highlighted a different attitude to work in younger generations who want to love what they do and don't 'live to work'. A different set of values could also play a crucial role - Generation Y aren't only motivated by success and money but many want to work for socially responsible organisations and 'make a difference'.


The individual

Some people are thought to have engagement orientating personality traits, which make them predisposed towards being engaged. Some of these are obvious - for example, the more neurotic will burn out more quickly and disengage. However, there are subtler traits that illustrate a tendency towards engagement, such as self-discipline at work and organisational commitment.


Expectations for work-life balance

Even in environments such as the City, where the work-life balance was traditionally non-existent, attitudes to the impact of work on lifestyle are changing. More agile business practices, flexible working and an eruption in the use of technology across business and personal lives, mean that employees today have a very different expectation of how they will work and what their work-life balance will be. If those expectations aren’t met then there is every indication this will have a significant negative impact on the levels of engagement at work.


The industry you work in

As yet there has been no solid evidence collected that industry sectors - or whether it's public or private - have an impact on employee engagement levels, but it is certainly a factor to bear in mind. However, for now at least, most of the research points to the differences in engagement not being sector-based but between individual organisations within those sectors instead.


Seniority at work

All the research suggests that the more senior the employee, the more likely they are to be engaged at work. The Blessing White research found that when employees achieve more power and position within an organisation, an increase in engagement with that employer is likely to be one of the outcomes. Levels of engagement tend to be the highest across manager-level employees. Operational hands-on employees also have high levels of engagement, whereas those who define themselves as 'professionals', as well as back-room employees, display lower levels of engagement.


At Active, we understand the factors which affect levels of employee engagement and, in particular, how employee recognition can help increase engagement within your workforce. To find out more please contact us.


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Other articles in this series

What is employee engagement and what can it achieve?

Where to focus your efforts to improve employee engagement

How to measure employee engagement

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