Kathleen Buse, PhD in Management '12 | Weatherhead

Kathleen Buse, PhD in Management '12

Posted 8.10.2015

Kathleen Buse, PhD in Management '12

Forbes article by Homaira Kabir:

Employee engagement has become every organization’s major concern—and not without reason. Employee engagement has shown time and again to impact retention, performance, profitability and shareholder value.

With 70% of employees disengaged, the opportunities for improvement are substantial. However, a pool table in the cafeteria or a pay raise to match an existing offer may no longer satisfy the needs of an increasingly younger and more diverse workforce. Fun workplaces do not call forth loyalty or high performance from their employees. It is personal growth, meaningful relationships and the knowledge that they are making a difference that makes employees work hard to overcome challenges and go the extra mile in their efforts to boost productivity.

This may not have been an issue in the not so distant past when an organization’s workforce consisted largely of male baby boomers, whose “Learn, Earn and Return” philosophy of work kept them committed to their jobs. Not so anymore. An increasing number of women and millennials make up today’s workforce and this demographic shift has only just begun. Understanding the needs of this segment of the population is key to employee engagement.

Women and millennials are the forerunners in the shift towards the purpose economy. They are the initiators of a trend that places a high priority on purpose in life. For women, this is partly due to the biological nature of motherhood and the dual commitment to both family and work. When the two are in direct conflict, they choose life. For millennials, it is driven by an increasing consciousness of their place in the larger context of life and a concern for how they will be remembered after they are gone.

Value Their Vision

Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy talks about the need for self-awareness in employees as the first and most important variable in building purpose. Managers and leaders can facilitate this step by helping members of their team develop a personal vision that includes their profession and then help come up with a plan to live it every day. Kathleen Buse and Diana Bilimoria at Case Western Reserve University conducted a study where they found that engineering organizations that helped their female employees develop a personal vision and provided challenges and opportunities for growth in line with it, saw a significant increase in employee engagement and retention despite the biases and discrimination in the profession.

Read more on Forbes.com.


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