Forget about millennials.

Today’s employees, no matter what generation they are of, are seeking a kind of support from their employers that previous generations of workers and managers could not conceptualize. It’s all part of the changing dynamics of the world of work. Employees want to be engaged in a way that acknowledges and empowers them beyond the receipt of a paycheck and an occasional pat on the back.

Here’s how it works:

Workers run on a steady diet of psychological empowerment, and it must be authentic. On the one hand, they want to feel good about the work they’re doing, that it’s having a net positive impact on the world around them. At the same time, they want to feel valued, accepted, and respected by their managers and coworkers. It’s simple but a better state of mind, and yields better, more consistent work that is more likely to be sustained over the long term.

Managers can help foster these feelings by acknowledging that each employee is a whole person. Employers that rank highest in employee engagement surveys are acknowledging that there’s more to life than the tasks performed at work. They put policies in place that allow their people to be better parents, partners, and have time to excel at their chosen extracurriculars. Allowing perks like working from home, flex time, and encouraging exercise, time out of the office, and regular vacations are all ways that employers can display an employee-first mentality.

The holy grail for employee engagement just may be sustaining a work community that makes employees feel like they have become a better person. And it doesn’t have to mean you are feeding the hungry or clothing the poor.

Quicken Loans has achieved success year after year in this department, with employees regularly speaking out in praise of the company’s culture and its positive effect on their daily lives. If you can make caring about your fellow employees an experience for everyone to have, you can create a truly nurturing environment that is leaps and bounds ahead of the traditional office.

To summarize, no matter what kind of business you run, you are not dealing with a monolithic generation of needy feel-gooders (aka millennials). You are encountering an entire workforce whose expectations are being steadily altered by circumstance.

In order to foster great employee engagement and establish a positive work culture that is sustainable going forward, you need to make it a priority to address their psychological well-being and create an environment that nurtures the whole person, not just the task-completing apparatus.

Questions about employee engagement or how to implement more employee-friendly policies at your company? Let me know in the comments or contact me directly at

photo credit: Dominican Republic 2007 via photopin (license)