Sixty-six percent of Gen Z say gaming is their main hobby. And recently gaming outpaced cable, more 23-36-year-olds (53 percent) pay for gaming services than who pay for TV (51 percent).
Why is gaming so engaging? It provides a sense of progress.
Gaming elements—like the progress bar/map or the story completion percentage—clearly inform players of where they started, how far they’ve come, and what’s left to accomplish. The improvement of a game character's skills or gear enhancements also contribute to a gamer's sense of progress. You don’t get a sense of progress from watching television.
Progress in meaningful work has the strongest impact on employee engagement according to Teresa Amabile, the co-author of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work.
Conversely, the number one event that diminishes employee engagement is experiencing a feeling of moving backward in the work they are doing, having setbacks. The negative effect of setbacks at work can be 2-3 times greater than the positive effect of progress.
Amabile's research discovered that it’s the everyday actions of managers (and co-workers) that can make the difference in catalyzing or inhibiting progress. Yet, when Amabile surveyed 600 managers about what has the strongest impact on employee engagement, they ranked “progress” last.
There is a massive chasm between what employees need/want and what managers are delivering.
What can managers do to engage Gen Z employees?
Progress is a key ingredient but it isn’t the full recipe for employee engagement and motivation. In order to sustain employee engagement, managers have to "nourish the human spirit by acknowledging their value and encouraging them when work gets difficult,” says Amabile.
Support people and support their progress.
This isn’t an exotic concept, but it’s too often underestimated and overlooked.
That should end now.
Leaders who follow these three steps will successfully address most (some more directly than others) of the questions the Gallup organization identified as being critical for assessing employee engagement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies' #1 asset, their people.
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