In the previous part of this series, Steve Price, Executive Director of the EIIL, discussed the retention of Generation C in the War for Talent. In this penultimate entry, he goes on to discuss the EIILs latest findings on retaining Generation C.

To dig deeper into the Leading the Connected Generation conclusions the EIIL undertook our 2015 study, Retaining Generation C. Throughout a year of EIIL workshops, designed to help engineers and managers with five to 10 years industry experience develop their own leadership skills, we introduced Gen C wild-cards – university students without any industry experience.

We tasked the combined group with a moderately complex business challenge where experience would be an advantage. At intervals we reviewed how well the Gen C team members felt and demonstrated that they were integrated into the team. We also took note of what had been said or done and by whom which contributed to the feeling of integration.

Alongside this we ran four in-house workshops with over 100 junior, middle and senior managers from one of our member companies in the EPC sector as well as students from a TU Delft honours programme. We also tested opinions amongst 450 students and young leaders in our entrepreneurship summer schools around Europe.

Across all these activities we saw a series of behaviours which are shown to make Gen C feel integrated, behaviours that next generation recruits will expect from workplace leaders if they are to stay. These include the need to make them feel valued early, to give them meaningful work, to help them to rapidly learn through their own experience and to encourage them to engage with experienced and inspiring colleagues. We must also allow them to make better use of social media tools to build networks and to find and share knowledge.

Worryingly we saw that there was quite a gap between the expectations of the different generations. Today’s talents see retaining the next generation as a company responsibility, not theirs. They have limited connection to the recruitment promise, no commitment to delivering it and they do not see themselves as natural ambassadors. Remember, Generation C need to be able to tell their peers that the company they’ve chosen to work for is awesome, and ethical.

Our study concluded that retention needs more focus if industry is to avoid breaking the recruitment promise. Don’t forget, it is an active policy amongst several sectors to disengage from campus recruitment, let industry recruit, and then to target those disenchanted by their early experience.

So our current workplace leaders need new leadership skills. They need to learn to deliver 3F feedback: factual, almost always favourable, but above all frequent. They must learn to act as mentors to help Gen C to find ways around the hierarchy and to succeed, fast. Company leaders need to address how to improve the way they provide recognition and reward, taking into account that it needs to be more frequent than for previous generations as well as being peer-recognisable.

This series is continued in part three, Next Generation Leaders: Strategic Outlooks on Industry 4.0