How to manage Gen Y and Z talent

GENERATIONS Y and Z are not like the generations that preceded them regarding how they think about work. This means that most corporate employers need to rethink how they recruit and retain people if they are to secure the best talent. That is according to Andrew Wood, the CEO at The Unlimited. He said these digitally connected generations are turning the world of work upside down. “Most South African employers are still following the same handbook as they did for recruiting baby boomers and generation Xs,” he said. “But growing up in an era of massive social and technological change means that millennials (Generation Y) and centennials (Generation Z) think about how they work and what they want from a work experience very differently.”

Wood said that unlike previous generations, centennials (born from 1997 onwards) and younger millennials define success in the workplace differently to older generations. Rather than wanting to work hard, they also want to work smart so that they can achieve an optimal work-life balance. And where Generation X focused heavily on status, advancement and money, the newer entrants to the workforce are more passionate about the intangible emotional benefits of the workplace, including security, purpose and fulfilment. Also, it matters to them to feel that their employer aligns with their social beliefs and ethics. “This means that culture has become a vital part of what attracts the best young talent to an organisation. “Organisations cannot simply say that they put people first or that they are good social citizens to attract high-calibre people – they actually need to live it in how they do business,” he said.

Wood said that as a company born in the idealistic early years of South African democracy, several companies have millennial DNA and realised from the outset that the world of business and work were changing. “We have always believed that the industrial paradigm is given way to new thinking and new ways of doing things. Young, technology-empowered people are looking for companies that are committed to more inclusive and sustainable ways of operating. They want to form part of organisations that have a purpose they can believe in and a culture that values them and enables them to be at their personal and professional best.” For example, The Unlimited has been recognised as one of the top employers between 2011 and 2015. Wood attributed the accolades to always staying true to its culture and values, with a focus on the advancement of employees, ownership and well-being. “Like the millennials and centennials, we believe that work-life balance is essential,” he added. “Asking people to sacrifice their health and family life for their careers is not only inhumane, but bad business. People with healthy work-life balance are more motivated, productive and resilient. They are also more like to stay with their employer.”

Most companies take wellness and the satisfaction of its workforce seriously. It has staff gyms at its key locations, with fitness classes, personal training and fun runs on offer. All employees are asked to take on a physical annual challenge like an ultra-walk or a marathon to stretch themselves. Employees get a one and a half hour break over lunch to exercise, train for their personal goal and eat a healthy meal. This ensures that there is no afternoon slump in the workplace. Each employee returns to their desk fresh and energised for the rest of the workday. Some companies also offer people without tertiary qualifications entry into the world of work and provides them with opportunities for advancement. In addition, they are empowered to grow and learn in a highly stimulating and dynamic environment. “Healthy balance is part of our culture. We don’t only stretch people professionally, but also help them to be their best in every sphere of life,” Wood advised.

Supplied by The Unlimited.

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