3 Keys to Becoming a Lifetime Employer for a New Generation of Workers

October 12, 2023 Ellie Haskins

People are always shocked when they hear me say that, at 26, I’ve found the company where I want to work for the rest of my life. How can I be so young and yet so sure this is where I want to spend my entire career?

On the surface, I may seem like an anomaly among people in my age group. Many of my friends are experiencing burnout and looking for new jobs. Research indicates they are not alone with surveys showing workers of all ages—but especially millennials and Gen Z workers reporting the highest rates of burnout, at 59% and 58% respectively.

But I’m not all that unique when it comes to engagement and retention. People want to believe it’s possible to be part of a work culture built on trust and collaboration, where they are free to grow and develop over many years.

Longevity at work is good not only for individuals, but also for organizations. Employee engagement is the driving force behind organizational success. Empowered employees are more productive, innovative, and committed. The cost of employee turnover is simply too high for organizations to ignore the factors that can lead to an engaged, energized workforce.

So what are the keys to unlocking and sustaining employee engagement? Growth, communication, and trust. These fundamental elements not only empower employees but also contribute to the overall success of any organization.

Start with growth

Growth is a basic human need. We all seek personal and professional development, and the workplace provides an ideal environment for fostering it. Companies that prioritize and invest in their employees' growth create a culture of engagement and loyalty.

Providing growth opportunities and clear career paths for employees is critical for retention. When people feel the tasks they are assigned are meaningful and their hard work will lead to advancement within the company, it allows them to stretch their skills, rise to new challenges, and make a positive impact.

When people take ownership of their own growth within a company, they feel a strong sense of engagement—and it is essential that this be celebrated by their manager. Having regular one-on-one discussions about career goals and opportunities for promotion is a great way for managers to empower employees to claim responsibility for their own growth. I am grateful that the company I work for provides an optional career development course. Since participation is not mandatory, I was able to experience a real sense of autonomy when I made the decision to take the course.

Effective communication is essential

Employees who embrace growth and take ownership pave the way for their own engagement and retention. However, it's important to remember that growth thrives best in an environment of open and effective communication between employee and manager.

So much of what makes our jobs fulfilling is our connection with our leader. It’s often said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. The most important relationship we have at work truly is the one we have with our manager.  

Effective communication is essential for cultivating a healthy employee/leader relationship. Being able to communicate openly with leaders builds trust, promotes engagement, and helps protect people from burnout. Each time an employee meets one on one with their boss, it reinforces their authentic relationship. My manager empowers me to set the agenda for our meetings and gives me the space and time to discuss my progress, challenges, and goals, which supports our relationship.

I do have to admit that people at my company have a bit of a head start. One advantage of working at Blanchard® is the availability of training programs such as SLII®, Essential Motivators™, and Conversational Capacity®. Skills gained from these programs allow learners to communicate more effectively with a greater understanding of themselves and each other. This collaborative approach to communication and growth nurtures a sense of ownership and shared responsibility, which keeps me highly engaged and eager to stay at Blanchard.

Trust is the foundation

The third element, which underlies all the other reasons I want to work at my organization as long as possible, is trust. Trust is required for employee engagement to exist.

When employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to not only invest their time and energy but also feel a sense of safety at work. Because I trust that my boss has my best interests in mind, as well as the best interests of the company, I experience psychological safety at work and a deep sense of well-being. My manager also empowers and trusts me to do my work, which allows me to experience autonomy without feeling isolated—I know I can ask for direction and support when I need it.

People are willing to go to great lengths when they trust that their leader has their best interests in mind and when that trust is backed up by the leader’s words and actions.

Invest in people

Employee engagement requires a strategic focus on growth, communication, and trust. These three key elements not only empower employees but also create a culture of engagement that leads to increased productivity, innovation, and long-term loyalty.

As a 26-year-old professional who dreams of someday retiring with my company, I can affirm that organizations that prioritize employee growth, open communication, and building trust create a workplace culture where employees feel valued, motivated, and excited to contribute their best every day. These organizations are more likely to reap the rewards of a highly engaged workforce.

About the Author

Ellie Haskins

Ellie Haskins, a community and experience facilitator for Blanchard®, is a motivating educator, communicator, and coach whose mission is to inspire people to love their lives. She cares deeply about the success of her clients and seeks to equip and empower them with effective, research-backed skills that enable them to achieve personal and professional goals. She is passionate about improving company culture and believes in the life-changing power of SLII® in carrying out that vision.

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