Anne van Herwijnen and Sjoerd Kooistra, Partners at Berwick Partners The Netherlands, share their views on challenges in attracting and retaining the talent of the future. Should organisations meet the idealism of the Millennial generation?
What do you think are the organisations of the future?
Sjoerd Kooistra (SK): These are organisations that are much more technology- and data driven and AI is going to play a large role in that. The question becomes: Where can we fit people in these organisations and what added value will they bring? The employee playing field is going to change a lot; our jobs are going to be different.
Anne van Herwijnen (AvH): If we look at the Life Sciences sector my clients reside in, there is much going on in the field of digital health, robotisation, generally at the side of technology. That is the future.
How should organisations adapt to retain people?
(SK): They need to take their employees’ motivation to work for their organisation into account. This is subject to change and can differ per generation.
(AvH): More flexibility from the employer is needed. If it’s clear what the assignment is, then people should get more leeway to complete it on their own terms, from what their work situation is, either from home or hotel, so that they can integrate exercise or whatever they find important in life. Offer development programs, so that they can gain experience in the endeavors they value and can improve themselves. When people start having children, offer both men and women the room to enjoy that, because the trend is increasingly that both partners work. You want to avoid things like separations, and that can certainly be done by organizing the 40 or 60 hours that people work more flexibly during that period of their lives.
Do you think organisations should meet the idealism of the Millennial generation and the pragmatism of Generation Z?
(SK) You will have to, because you will not change that generation. You’ll have to meet them halfway. But there are many flavors to that. I would start from your own organisational identity, before you look at how you need to adapt so that you remain interesting. I would absolutely not surrender to the mindset of a Millennial.
Consider what the organisation stands for, what the core values are, and how these need to be adapted and/or supplemented so that the organisation becomes and remains interesting for generations to come, to ensure that they’ll continue to want to work for you.
(AvH) Partially. In an ideal world, someone works because it is their passion or hobby. But we are not that far yet. It’s also giving and taking and conforming and there must be reciprocity. But if an organisation would take the needs of their employees more into account, they will go an extra mile.
With regards to my clients in Biotech, Medical Devices and Pharma, there will always be people wanting to work for these kinds of organisations.
But how are they going to position themselves as the employer of the future?
By ensuring a good work-life balance, offering development programs and creating awareness for what they do. The organisations of the future are those who meet the needs of the Millennials and Generation Z. I believe very much in job rotation and selecting people for assignments within an organisation based on their strengths, instead of very rigidly linking people to a fixed job profile.
What does the fact that Generation Z expects to fulfill multiple roles within a job mean for organisations?
(AvH): That we may have to get rid of rigidly placing people into boxes. Now, there are clear job profiles and role distributions within an organisation we stick to, but I believe that it can help to take a closer look at someone’s talents and what they achieved successfully. If you let people do what they are good at, they can be more successful.
If an organisation can identify where the strength of someone is not, place someone at his/her side that possesses these qualities. I think it is very important that organisations ensure people know their talents, because it will make them more effective in their roles.
What does it mean that Generation Z finds empowering jobs, work culture and growth potential as the most important factors for organisations?
(SK): This means that you should meet that line of thought. Otherwise talent will choose to work for organisations where that is the case. You can stick to what you have very stubbornly and risk losing them.
(AvH): That so much remains to be done on that level. I think that many have a need for learning, and organisations should facilitate that. There is something between saying and doing here. A lot of companies say: ‘You can grow here and you can develop yourself here’, but the practice is often different.
We need leaders who believe that because they develop and coach the people around them, they themselves become better and more successful. Instead of knocking themselves on the chest and saying: ‘This is what I did and this is what I can do’. Authentic leadership admits that they cannot do everything themselves. And that’s fine because we are not superheroes.
How should organisations connect with Generation Z better?
(SK): One company may devise screws, another one something else. But is it about a product or a culture where you can feel comfortable as an employee? What kinds of people work at a company can work as a sort of magnet for new talent.
(AvH): What Deloitte does, for example, is to create brand recognition at the start of the funnel. So when someone leaves university, he/she already has a feeling for that company. That helps.
With regards to what Generation Z finds important; think of well-being, able to be themselves, room for the things that they find important in life, perhaps less hierarchy, which is a bit passé.
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