A new generation of talent is remolding expectations of the ideal workplace, meaning things are being rapidly shaken up in the HR department. Set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, “Generation Y” and “Millennials” display a different approach to working life. Having grown up in the dawn of a tech era, they apply working practices that demand a revamped office environment and tools at their disposal.

So how can the HR department do its part to ensure employees continue to be engaged at all stages of the employee journey – from recruitment through to retention – so that wider business objectives can be realised?  

Understanding the new generation

As a HR professional, the first priority is to understand how the changing workforce will impact existing strategies. There are two main considerations:

1.       A new way of working:

Millennials know what they want, and if an employer isn’t providing this they will certainly find a company that is. More tech-savvy than ever both in their personal and professional lives, this has a knock-on effect on the way they will conduct business. Demanding a much more collaborative and social way of working, top spec consumer devices and tools such as Salesforce Chatter, Google Docs and Hangouts will provide the working environment they crave. It’s also worth considering whether the firm offers and promotes a good work / life balance and actively encourages flexible working practices.

2.       Avoiding the talent gap:

Employer loyalty is at an all-time low, with a more fluid movement of candidates than ever. In fact, 90% of C-level executives recently told Appirio that recruiting these crucial hires remains a challenge. This issue places a major strain on the company, with tangible loss at the expense of productivity and innovation. It’s understandable therefore that the C-suite estimates that more than one third of HR’s budget is dedicated to recruiting and retaining technical talent alone.

Businesses must keep evolving if they are to fully cater for a new generation of talent. With HR taking the reins and identifying key trends and expectations, they can ensure that best candidates are hooked from the talent pool, and continue to be engaged at work.

Turning worker experience into customer experience

As unhappy workers result in unhappy customers, the environment that a business provides will have a direct correlation with the overall success of an organisation. Ensuring exceptional worker experience that will empower employees to create an exceptional customer experience is key. Netflix is a great example of this, achieving great customer service and business growth simply by remaining focused on the worker experience. It provides amazing incentives with the understanding that employees are expected to work hard and provide a great service to customers.

Introducing a virtuous cycle approach will help HR improve employee loyalty and productivity. In turn this can lead to company growth, customer loyalty and satisfaction and vice versa. Using this as a demonstrator of the return on investment is a great way for HR Directors to show credibility and influence at board level.

Becoming a trusted advisor

The traditional HR model has been shaken up. It is no longer seen as a function that polices the workforce to ensure that people are acting in a way that is appropriate at work, or as the gatekeeper to holiday and pay.

Innovative technologies have now moved HR away from simply holding systems of records for the company to being a centre of intelligence, whereby data can be evaluated to determine improved methods of interaction in the workforce. Such a shift is opening the doors for HR teams to think much more strategically, and develop a new skillset, whereby they can use their time to do a lot more. For example, HR can look at the skills of employees and predict where the business may have a gap in talent and take the steps to rectify this.

Businesses are moving into a more predictive world and HR Directors that can talk at board level about upcoming challenges and understand what technology to use to drive commercial opportunities and business decisions will have much more credibility. They will better understand how the organisation can best serve its customers through their employees.

The future of work presents a number of challenges and opportunities to HR teams, but what’s clear is the key to success is putting employees’ needs first. Taking the time to understand the new generation’s priorities and expectations will help the wider business thrive in future.

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