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The Times, They are A-Changing…

Bob Dylan wrote the song The Times They are A-Changing in 1964, but the words are just as true today.  In the world of industry, methods of production are becoming more mechanized, the use of robotics and high technology becoming more and more prevalent. Entry-level jobs require more base knowledge and skill.  With 10,000 baby-boomers retiring daily for the next 10 years, a lot of jobs will be opening for the Millennial Generation. 


The Millennials, the term generally applied to folks born from the mid 1990’s through the early 2000’s, view things differently than their parents (most of whom are baby-boomers).  In order to be able to attract and retain able workers of the millennial generation, employers are going to have to be willing to change their way of thinking.


A recent Gallup study on the State of the American Workplace, shows that workers want more and more flexibility in their jobs and are looking more and more for jobs that fulfill them.  According to the report, more than half of all workers are looking for a new job.  The most common reasons for voluntarily leaving existing employment are

  • Career growth opportunity
  • Pay and benefits
  • Manager or management
  • Company Culture
  • Job Fit


What can employers do to engage their younger employees?  According to the Gallup study, something must be done:  “The one thing leaders cannot do is nothing. They cannot wait for trends to pass them by, and they cannot wait for millennials to get older and start behaving like baby boomers.”


The recurring theme, though, for Millennials is engagement.  Employees have to believe in management, believe in their product and production methods, they have to be rewarded for their work – not only monetarily, but also in a more self-centered way.  They have to feel that they play an integral and important roll in creating the finished product.



According to management theory, there are four levels of employee engagement. 


  • At level one, employees have their basic needs met for doing the job – they know what is expected of them, and they have the tools they need to do the job. 
  • At level two, job performance is noticed and praised, and workers are encouraged to develop their skills. 
  • At level three, input from the worker is sought after and appreciated, and workers feel important to the company. 
  • At level four, advancement opportunities are realized, and employees are totally engaged.


Basically, the more a worker is appreciated and feels that they are important to the company, the better worker they will be.  This idea really should not be news to anybody… it’s more like common sense.


Moving forward, employees must be viewed as partners, part of the team, and feel that their work – and their input – is important to the company.  Employers must share their vision and get buy-in from employees.  Finally, employees must be open, receptive and responsive to the vision, and work to achieve stated goals.  In the end, everybody – managers and employees – must work together with a shared vision and culture, and a raised level of engagement and performance to ensure success of industry and our economy.


***update – According to a Gallup Poll, the state of Alabama leads the nation in employee engagement with 37% of employees being considered engaged at work.  Based on the study, Engaged employees “are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace.  They are psychological “owners,” drive performance and innovation, and move the organization forward.” ***


Cleve Poole serves as the Vice President of Economic Development and Economic Development at Pioneer Electric Cooperative. This article was originally published in the Pioneer Electric edition of Alabama Living magazine in April 2017. 

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