The Generational Impact on Employee Engagement Practices

I am just about finished with my research report on Brandon Hall Group’s 2018 Engagement Practices survey, and I am excited to say that it shows how practices are evolving due to the rapidly changing workforce environment.

I was particularly interested in determining whether the changing generational mix of the workforce had any impact on organizations’ engagement practices. Organizations always seem to be asking what they can do to engage the different generation levels.  As our surveys are completed by HR Professionals and business leaders, I asked them to estimate the generational composition of their workforce. Then I examined the data to see if there were any attitudinal and practice differences.

That data shows that nearly two-thirds of responding organizations have workforces comprised primarily of Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X employees (“Younger” age-mix). Over one-third have a workforce comprised of 26% or more Baby Boomers (“Older” age-mix).  There are some striking differences in attitudes when it comes to valuing activities for engagement among organizations with a younger age-mix compared to the older age-mix organizations.

The “younger” age-mix organizations are more likely to consider team building activities and recognition programs to be highly valuable for their engagement initiatives. The older age-mix organizations are more likely to consider career development, coaching, work/life balance supports, and wellness/well-being to be highly valuable.

Activities Considered Highly Valuable for Engagement Efforts



Younger Age-Mix

Older Age-Mix

Team building activities

54% 46%

Recognition programs



Career development



Coaching, mentoring



Work/life balance supports






Source: 2018 Brandon Hall Group Engagement Practices Survey (n=302)

Now, there were quite a few additional engagement activities listed in the survey, but these are the ones which showed some preference differences.

So, what does this mean for your organization? Engagement practices are always a balancing act, especially when it pertains to managing the different generations. Before implementing an activity, find out what is important to your own employees, and be sure to address everyone’s needs.  Some activities can include a variety of features that would be appealing to the different groups. For instance, wellness and team-building activities can include employee recognition.

Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst, Talent Acquisition, Brandon Hall Group