Corporate recruitment is already being re-thought in order to attract the best of ‘the Connected Generation’ – those entering university today who have grown up with a life time of access to the internet. But few companies are preparing their existing talent pool for the challenges of managing this new generation. This will be key to successful attraction and, more importantly, retention of new talent.
Improvement in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have brought significant productivity improvements to industry. This has had the effect reducing the number of entry-level jobs available to new graduate recruits.
These same improvements in ICT have enabled a trend towards increased fragmentation of our larger companies. Out-sourcing has been made easier, enabling greater focus on core activities.
As a consequence the opportunity for today’s young professional recruits to gain the breadth of early career experience, enjoyed by many if not most of today’s industry leaders, is much reduced.
Thirdly, these same ICT improvement have provided good graduates with increased visibility of alternative (and ‘cooler’) career opportunities, including the option to be a ‘serial start-up entrepreneur’, the currently fashionable ‘most-culturally-acceptable-on-campus’ alternative to a ‘boring’ corporate career. This has made competition for the best of the best technology graduates tougher than ever before.
Reducing the intake at the bottom of the career ladder, means that to maintain a sufficiently deep pool from which to select future leaders, companies must work hard to retain the talent that they do recruit. Active retention policies need to recognize that variety of experience and meaningful work together with a ‘cool’ workplace (with ‘awesome’ colleagues) are as important as salary as motivating ‘currencies of reward’.
Retention of the best will need to be a key consideration of all workplace leaders – the first managers of new recruits. It is their behaviours which will create the workplace culture (and on-campus reputation) which will provide the young recruit with much of the above. It is essential then that current workplace leaders are aware of, and proficient in, adapting their behaviours to recognize and satisfy the needs of the Connected generation and to help them to feel integrated and included in their workplace.
So, what is the need which most differentiates the generations? The one which the social-media phenomenon has arguably caused, and which workplace leaders from the older generations neither need themselves, nor see the need for in others? The most differentiating need of the ‘Connected’ generation is for feedback: validation, recognition and reward (which they can share with and show off to their peers).
Unless recruits from the connected generation are recognized, and rewarded, with the opportunities, formal and informal, for them to develop new skills; opportunities which they can then share with their envious peers on social media, they will increasingly use the same social media to look for these rewards elsewhere.
Today’s workplace leaders are critical in providing such rewards.
Companies in the ‘traditional’ industries (energy, petrochemical, chemicals and plastics) talk of a ‘War for Talent’, and of the need to make their industry more attractive to future recruits. They promote the challenges and excitement of the jobs available, they promote the societal value of the products their companies make. These actions are certainly necessary, but arguably not sufficient.
They might also do well to focus now on developing their current workplace leaders, their middle managers; to recognize the needs of Generation C, and to develop the essential ‘integrating’ skills and behaviours, to create the ‘cool’ and rewarding workplace culture in which to retain their future recruits.
Steven Price – October 2015