Original Research

Workplace engagement of South African Millennials: A non-issue?

Thelma Louw, Renier Steyn
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 17, No 1 | a938 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v17i1.938 | © 2021 Thelma Louw, Renier Steyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2020 | Published: 26 March 2021

About the author(s)

Thelma Louw, Department of Risk and Compliance, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Renier Steyn, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa


Although theories on generational issues abound, this research sought to explore whether Millennial employees and employees from Generation X responded differently to the South African work environment. The aim of the study was to assess whether South African Millennials experience their work environment different to Generation X employees, focusing specifically on engagement and identifying the differential activation of engagement across these generations. Data from 1913 Millennials and 1027 Generation X employees, from an existing database representative of employees across the broad spectrum of South African organisations, were analysed. Data on the age of employees and responses to the employee engagement questionnaire (UWES-9) were available across all cases. The reliability of the instrument was tested first, followed by measurement invariance testing across generations. This was followed by mean differences testing between the generations on the total scores, as well as subscale scores and items. The results reveal that the UWES-9 was reliable and measurement invariant across generations. It further revealed that no mean differences exist between Generation X and Y (Millennials), as far as total engagement scores are concerned. This result is significant as it reveals that South African Millennials respond similarly to the generation preceding them to workplace engagement initiatives. The findings also indicate that Millennials respond well to interventions that help them build confidence and juggle multiple responsibilities.


Millennials; employee engagement; UWES-9; Generation X; South Africa.


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