Keeping Gen Y Happy & Motivated

12 Jul,2013


By Devina Sengupta & Sreeradha D Basu


Two months ago, a global Coca-Cola team arrived in India for a focus group discussion with the youngest set of employees. Suggestions were jotted down with the promise that markets permitting, they would be implemented. “Asia and Africa are crucial markets, dominated by a young workforce, so these ideas will be paid heed to,” says Sameer Wadhawan, vice president, human resource, for the beverage firm in India.


A third of Coca-Cola’s Indian employees are born after 1980, which makes them Gen Y or the millennial generation. Their needs include a salary that supports their lifestyle and is not based on hierarchy, and a structure that helps them avail of a utility loan from the company. Company officials also made note of the fact that that unlike the earlier generation, they liked short-term assignments and did not mind the disruption caused by frequent relocations.


Like Coca-Cola, many organizations are waking up to Gen Y’s rhythm, and disturbingly, their shifting loyalties. Attrition amongst Gen Y, on average, is at 20% to 25%, according to Shiv Agrawal, MD of ABC Consultants. Policies like reverse mentoring, flexible work, career accelerators or global assignments may no longer be enough to keep the flock home, and teams across industries are constantly tweaking them. From seating arrangements to internet access, every detail is looked into.


Yashwant Mahadik, HR head of Philips India, discovered that Gen Y – nearly 48% of employees in his company – did not like three-day-long training sessions, and may not believe in loyalty to the organization or the person they worked for. They believe in being loyal only to their job and their craft. “They would rather focus on delivering terrific results as compared to spending energy in managing all kinds of stakeholders,” adds Mr Mahadik.


There was a deeper understanding of this generation that Mr Mahadik’s studies revealed to him. “They have not stood in long queues at railway stations and hence have not had the disappointment of not getting a train reservation of their choice after almost half-a-day’s wait. So they don’t fear shortage as much as the older generation does,” he says.


He, like the rest of India Inc, is trying to do his best to keep the fast-growing group satiated. Every detail has to be taken into account. So, if 100 people need to attend a meeting, there need to be 80 working seats in addition to free seating everyday, with the assumption that at least 20% of employees will be away from work or working from home.


“They want clear line of sight on their careers, are open to change as the time comes, but need to have this clarity always,” says Ashutosh Telang, executive VP and global head – HR of Marico. The FMCG firm, for the first time ever, has included a few Gen Y employees in leadership roles and is paying them close attention, to address the slightest dissatisfaction. Access to social media sites is never blocked at Marico so as to keep 63% of the workforce happy.


“Gen Y looks beyond money and the commercial objectives of the company, and aspires to work with an organization that is associated with a larger purpose,” says Sripada Chandrasekhar, VP and head – HR, IBM India & South Asia. IBM has realised that this generation has a social conscience, among other things.


The organization started Corporate Service Corps, which partners governments and nonprofits in emerging markets around the world. The best performing young employees are made part of this group wherein they offer expertise in technology and management consulting to address pressing problems of the community. “This initiative has proven to add value for all the three stakeholders: communities, IBM employees, especially the millennials and IBM,” says Mr Chandrasekhar.


It took alarm bells for companies like PwC to realise what millennials wanted. “A decade after the first millennials entered PwC, it began to notice that the youngest generation of professionals was leaving in growing numbers after just a few years,” said the firm in a report of a study conducted along with University of Southern California and London Business School.


“Perhaps even more alarmingly, a significant majority of them appeared to lack interest in the traditional professional services career path, one that required an intense work commitment early in their career in exchange for the chance to make partners later,” said the report in PwC’s largest ever generational study. Nearly a 1,000 millennial employees participated in 300 interviews and 30 focus group studies. By 2016, the group expects 80% of employees to belong to Gen Y. Among other lessons, the accounting firm learnt that millennials have a greater expectation to be supported and appreciated in return for their contributions, compared with non-millennials, who attach more importance to pay and career track record.


Also, those in developed regions like North America, Europe and certain parts of the East give a greater emphasis to work-life balance. It impacts their commitment and job satisfaction more than those in other parts of the world.


“It is critical that organizations acknowledge this seismic upheaval and devise new strategies and paradigms that will create a stable foundation,” stated the report.


Source:The Economic Times

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