The classical ideal of the new-age workplace is far removed from the idea of the office as an impersonal space. In an evolved world, employees aren’t hired to slave away in their cubicles in return for a salary. They are groomed to become key stakeholders in the organizations they work for and treated almost on a par with the customers that these businesses need to deliver value to.
Not only is the millennial workforce inspired by purpose-driven businesses, it demands to be a part of the “bigger picture”. The twin concepts of collaboration and shared purpose coalesce into the sum of the modern employee's “meaning-first” mindset.
So, when it comes to elevating the employee experience in meaningful ways, are organizations doing as much as they should? Only a handful of them, unfortunately. Even those that profess to provide an unparalleled employee experience seem to be merely scratching the surface by way of benefits like maternity, paternity and pawternity leave, flexible hours and state-of-the-art office campuses equipped with gyms and games rooms.
Talent development is being reframed as an ongoing process by organizations to reaffirm their commitment to individuals by offering professional development and learning opportunities
Currently, there is still a considerable chasm between millennial workforce needs and what the workplace offers. If companies want to harness the massive potential of this future workforce, they need to start by incorporating the tools, technologies and best practices of talent development and employee experience that propel productivity.
Indulge thy employee
Employee experience is more than just a buzzword. It’s a critical business imperative that can drive innovation, productivity, customer satisfaction and revenue. What used to be the gold standard in terms of a "good place to work" is no longer restricted to salary, perks and set-piece promotions. Millennials bring to the table a different work ethic than their predecessors, in return for which they aspire to rewards that go beyond the usual perks.
Employees today seek to build careers that are as much about experiences and learnings as they are about earning a living. Bersin by Deloitte analyzed data from the employment review website Glassdoor to arrive at the conclusion that an employee's rating of an organization's "culture and values" is 4.9 times more predictive of a recommendation than salary and other benefits.
Organizations that keep abreast of human resource trends and foster a culture of symbiotic growth are usually the happy workplaces that millennials want to be part of. For any employee, being able to identify with a company's culture means being invested in that vision and growing along with the organization. Surveys have shown that opportunities for learning and development work better in employee retention than perks and privileges. According to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94 per cent of employees would stay in a company longer if it invested in their careers.
Agility to adapt
The Darwinian concept of "survival of the fittest" has never been truer than in this age of disruption. If chatbots are grabbing customer service roles, how soon before AI and automation trigger wider human resource redundancies? As companies increase their reliance on newer technologies to keep pace with changes and competition, talent management holds the key to handling workplace disruptions. A research by McKinsey suggests that almost 50 percent of workplace activities could be replaced by technologies already out there in the market. All of this means an enormous challenge for HR to reallocate the capacity freed up from routine office functions.
Businesses that have a grip on what the future might be like are the ones that acknowledge and quickly act on building an agile workforce. For them, learning is at the heart of talent agility. The HR departments of many of the world's top companies have long been using technology solutions to redefine the employee experience and develop talent with the goal of attracting, appraising and retaining them.
Employees want professional development and the companies they work for require a larger pool of talent armed with skill sets to quickly replace obsolete ones. Upskilling and reskilling of internal talent not only spares companies the trouble of scouting elsewhere for the right fit for a job, it also saves money. Research on the advantages of upskilling has shown that finding talent within, and training them, costs an organization one-sixth the price of hiring someone from outside.
But what about businesses that haven't been ahead of the curve? For starters, these companies must be ready to invest in learning and development with a proactive approach to address this growing challenge. The right solutions offer a comprehensive view of your people and their skills, allowing businesses to bridge skills gaps, map succession plans and prepare for the pace of digital transformation.
Unlike poles attract
Homogeneity in team composition is no longer a virtue. The rapidly changing demographics of the workplace is a true reflection of how the demographics of the world itself has been altered. Modern organizations have realized that diversity is the engine of innovation and improved company culture. This runs contrary to the old train of thought that homogenous teams are easier to manage. Indeed, studies have shown that similarities among team members create biased patterns of problem-solving and often lead to herd mentality.
A recent study by the Harvard Business Review set out to determine whether the claims of diversity as an innovation-driven were true. Surveying over 1,700 companies across the globe, the research team looked at the correlation between differences in respect to sex, career path, gender, nationality and more to the percentage of revenue stemming from new products. Guess what they found? The more diverse companies become, the greater their success in innovating and achieving higher revenue targets.
One of the earliest life lessons we learn is that you can't please everyone. For HR leaders, it is a little different. As multiple generations of employees assemble in the workplace, creative handling is the key. Every talent management professional will tell you that making sure the needs of all employees are met is their toughest task. The challenge is especially difficult given the differences in communication preferences, learning styles, effective incentives and office expectations from generation to generation. Of the five generations of employees that potentially comprise any workplace, the three largest groups are the "Baby Boomers (ages 54-70)", Generation X (ages 34-53)" and Generation Y, aka the millennials (ages 21-33)". Typically, millennials would be the focus of an organization given that they represent future leaders. This group takes an entrepreneurial approach to work, prefers direct communication and feedback, and seeks a social, friendly work environment. The challenge for companies is to address these generational shifts in a way that nobody gets left behind.
The secret sauce
Talent agility continues to be a strategic driver of business sustainability, and the most progressive HR leaders are taking note of global talent trends and translating them into action in their organizations. A compelling employee experience has emerged as a powerful incentive for hiring and a big draw for retention of existing employees. Talent development is being reframed as an ongoing process by organizations to reaffirm their commitment to individuals by offering professional development and learning opportunities.
Organizations need to provide employees the sense of purpose that they are looking for while driving the productivity and engagement that the organization wants
Onboarding plays a critical role in ensuring that new hires do not leave within the first year. It’s also the ideal opportunity to introduce the new employee to the culture, value and expectations of the organization. In addition, it sets the stage for learning and career growth for each individual. Onboarding is most effective when it is personalized to provide employees with the mentoring, goal-setting and resources they need to be successful in their everyday roles. The best places to work are usually those that are constantly evolving how their employees receive performance feedback. Most organizations have replaced the traditional annual performance review with one that involves more frequent interaction between managers and their employees. The goal is to provide employees the sense of purpose that they are looking for while driving the productivity and engagement that the organization wants.