The issue of how companies should manage employees of different generations has been a top concern for managers in recent years. A Gallup study on employee engagement finds that the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged workers was lowest among employees aged 30-59. Employees in this age range are more likely to be actively disengaged, meaning they exhibit a negativity that can spread to coworkers and erode an organization’s productivity. The percentage of actively disengaged workers was highest among those aged 40-49 (22 percent). Workers in this age group were almost 1.5 times as likely as those aged 18-29 or those aged 60 and older to be actively disengaged (15 percent for both the youngest and oldest age groups). Ratings for items that relate to employees’ personal development tended to decline most in the middle groups. The findings suggest that once employees are past early adulthood they become significantly less likely to strongly agree that their workplace is a source of personal development. This perception drops even further among workers in their 40s and 50s, who are significantly less likely to strongly agree that someone at work encourages their development and that they have opportunities at work to learn and grow. Those workers aged 40-59 who strongly agree with both the “development” and “learn and grow” engagement items were significantly more likely than other employees to say they experienced happiness and significantly less likely to say they experienced worry or stress. Managers must continually communicate with employees about their aspirations and work with them on developmental paths that help them avoid career “ruts.” Managers who show creativity and commitment in helping employees carry out such plans may well keep their employees engaged, helping them reap the benefits of those employees’ experience and judgment as they pass through middle age and beyond.
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Generational differences in the workplace have forced companies to analyze employee engagement by age groups. Employee engagement training becomes necessary to foster creativity and innovation.