Intrapreneurship: the answer to Generation Y engagement?

Given the natural aptitude that Generation Y show for creative thinking, and strong affiliation for the topic of sustainability, companies should consider social intrapreneurship as a compelling engagement and retention strategy.

An intrapreneur is defined as “a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation.” When this notion is applied to addressing key social or environmental challenges, this is referred to as social intrapreneurship.

If we consider Daniel H. Pink’s findings published in his 2009 book Drive!, we discover three key ingredients for creating engagement: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Autonomy means the ability to determine how we reach our goals, mastery looks at the inherent motivation and satisfaction we find in surmounting a challenge, and purpose relates to what we find important.

A growing number of brave individuals, many from Generation Y, are looking to lead meaningful change from their position in the organisation. These intrapreneurs are not subversive to the company goals, rather they are taking initiative for meeting an unaddressed need which they also personally find important. It is both good for the employee’s engagement, and benefits the company’s bottom line.

As leaders, we need to be open to new initiatives which are not in the plan. We need to allow ourselves to back new ideas and support the individual change makers. In doing so, an emerging and engaging form of leadership will surface, bringing out the best of employees so they feel empowered to take initiative. Intrapreneurship is not only good for business; it’s also a key component to Generation Y retention.

  • How does intrapreneurship fit as a strategic investment in your business?
  • How do you as a leader or as an oganisation create the space for your employees to step forward as (social) intrapreneurs?

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