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For years now, millennials have been challenging the prevalent status quo at the conventional workplace. While previous generations can be characterized as rarely questioning management, newer inductees into the workforce -who come with their own expectations, priorities and unique work ethic- are making senior managers and HR departments wake up and take notice. The need for ‘reinventing the HR wheel’ to adapt to a changing work culture has never been greater.
Startups, which are associated with a more informal culture, have become workplaces of choice for the self-motivated Generation Y, defined by their go-getter attitude and readiness to wear many hats- which leaves no room for mediocrity. For them, channeling their creative energy towards making a demonstrable impact on their workplace and society as a whole is an adrenalin rush, not to mention the opportunities to learn from people who inspire them to strive for more. To them, a good leader leads from the front, empowers those around them and creates an environment that facilitates the flourishing of ideas- not someone cloistered in the corner office, looking over people’s shoulders and issuing directives. These changing expectations make it imperative for the Human Resources function to channel energy in the direction of employee empowerment and engagement.
When it comes to millennials, a major challenge faced by HR departments is the problem of attrition. In a 2014 study conducted by Bayt, 46% of respondents aged 35 and under said that they saw themselves working in their current job for the next two years or less. Millennials constantly express their desire to assume more challenging duties and on-the-job growth. This underscores the importance of breaking with tradition and implementing innovative HR policies to keep them engaged. Higher pay is not the solution to keep attrition under control. The solution is one that provides an engaging and exciting culture, innovative benefits and career growth opportunities.
HR’s traditional and transactional role is on the verge of extinction with HR makeovers being the talk of the town. This is not just about discarding the traditional nine to five model and implementing a casual dress code across the organization. The following transformational HR practices, brought about by re-engineering long-standing HR processes or implementing technology-driven HR initiatives, will go a long way in bringing forth the best from a new generation of aspirational workers and addressing many of their concerns.
Crowdsourcing, which brings thinking minds together, is something that HR professionals advocate, in the form of innovation contests. Global organizations have begun leveraging their employee diversity, experience and expertise to become more creative, fast and efficient in catering to the needs of their customers. For employees, it is indicative of them making an intellectual contribution that will have a direct impact on organizational decisions and success.
Employee councils are HR initiatives to provide a platform for employees to connect with business leaders and senior management professionals. When employees are faced with a decision-making difficulty, access to a member of the leadership team doesn’t just help them with guidance, but also strengthens the tie between the employee and the organization. Even though employee engagement falls under the purview of HR, it needs to be a business-led strategy for better impact. Such councils are a case in point. With millennials constituting a growing segment of the organizational workforce by the year, HR departments face a host of issues and challenges. For example, employees may be unable to decide between advancing their careers or pursuing further education. Some employees may feel that their roles have become stale, some may face issues with peers or managers. Senior leaders not only serve as listening boards but are also uniquely placed to provide the right advice and guidance.
Workplace culture is an important parameter that has become instrumental in retaining key talent, and keeping millennials from straying and looking for opportunities outside. Millennials perform best in a workplace with a rich and inclusive culture. Hence, professionals across the HR function are concentrating on unique cultures that bring out the best in their workforce.
So what is this culture about and how do we identify and distinguish it from that of another organization? Culture stems from an environment wherein the professional and personal success of every employee is considered paramount. In the Bayt study, decision-making authority played a huge role in employees remaining loyal to their organizations. Other factors included having open communications with management and helpful mentors.
When individuals are respected for their expertise, input and professional aspirations, that respect is reciprocated and permeates throughout the organization. A positive workplace culture drives collaboration, innovation and overall business results. After all, it is the people who form an organization and its culture. Recruitment practices which emphasize deciphering individual values, in addition to professional skill sets, gain precedence and will help the organization thrive.
Technology has impacted every facet of the workplace, and HR departments are no exception. Millennials are attracted to technology-enabled organizations. The days of being tethered to workstations are gone and the current generation is one that is highly mobile and always connected, and expects organizations to adapt accordingly. Today’s HR practices like Employee Onboarding and Induction can be carried out at the click of a button. The organization’s intranet has become a communication tool for management to connect with employees. Functions of Talent Acquisition as well as Training modules that enhance learning are accessible through videos and e-learning modules.
A symbiotic relationship between the business and the human resource function can make startups an employer of choice and career destination for today’s workforce. It’s the right time to join hands to create what is called a ‘High-Impact Organization’- an organization that is robust and seamlessly aligns the interests of employees and management. This creates a cohesive organization across all functions which can work towards common goals. Within this new landscape, HR can play an incalculable role in the evolution and journey of an organization, and molding the prevalent culture.