As employment markets tighten and employers expect great outcomes from their employees, some would say the economic crisis has spurred a return to a grateful, less demanding, and stabilized workforc –especially where young employees are concerned.So much for work-life balance, career pathing, and increasing vacation time. Those Xers and Ys should just be thankful they have a job. Right?Don’t bet on it.Generations X and Y know what they want from a job. True, they may learn to be more patient during a time of transition like this, but they aren’t going to neglect the very thing that gets them to work in the first place.While senior executives held tight to their traditions, young employees made waves in the workforce when they started demanding meaning and fulfillment from their work. A change in their favor had finally begun, and an economic crisis certainly isn’t going to force a return into meaningless, reduntant, or thankless work.Actually, a time of crisis is an ideal time to focus on employee engagement regardless of their ages. If you can give employees meaningful work during a time like this, you are certain to win their favor and retain them longer.Urging employees to simply rethink their jobs was enough to drop absenteeism by 60 percent and turnover by 75 percent, a new University of Alberta study shows.A ‘Spirit at Work’ intervention program, designed to engage employees and give a sense of purpose, significantly boosted morale and job retention for a group of long-term health-care workers at the center of the study.The study revealed that people who are able to find meaning and purpose in their work, and can see how they make a difference through that work, are healthier, happier, and more productive employees.Employees in the study attended a Spirit at Work one-day workshop, followed by eight weekly booster sessions offered at shift changes. The workers were led through a variety of exercises designed to help staff create personal action plans to enhance spirit at work. They were asked to consider concepts like the deeper purpose of their work, being of service, appreciation of themselves and others, sense of community and self-care.The result was a 23 percent increase in teamwork, a 10 percent hike in job satisfaction, and a 17 percent jump in workplace morale.In addition, employer costs related to absenteeism were almost $12,000 less for the five months following the workshop than for the same period in the previous year. The employees also showed an increased interest in and focus on their patients.Happiness is never overrated. Younger generations introduced that value to the workforce, and there’s no turning back, no matter what the state of the economy may be.Employers of every generation in every industry are finally realizing a return on investment with happier, motivated employees and meaningful work.Remember: Work is no longer a place to go, it’s someting to do. And it feels good to do something great.
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