More than 152,000 professional, scientific and technical jobs were added in the UK during 2013, in addition to more than 55,000 in the ICT sector.
That level of hiring means a greater number of organisations are looking at a relatively shallow talent pool – especially for those with specialised skills. For MSPs and any organisation with a substantial IT staff it’s not just about finding and keeping good employees.
They face an even bigger challenge. They need to attract staff with the necessary skills to manage complex systems, meet ongoing and ever-changing technology demands and support an innovative (almost bleeding-edge) approach to technology adoption.
Fortunately, a wave of Millennials or Generation Ys (those between ages of 18 and 31) are surging through the business world, which is causing corporate and HR executives to rethink recruitment and retention strategies and focus on this emerging class of workers.
Do a little internet research, and you’ll unearth a huge amount of often contradictory information about what Gen Y professionals are looking for from their careers.
There are 10 key factors that are driving the Millennial generation in the workplace of today:
■ Pay is still a primary driver. Gen Y has greater expectations about the work environment than previous generations (see below), and those expectations also involve salary, according to research from California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Research on Employment and the Workforce (CREW). Younger workers ranked the importance of pay higher than other generations did.
■ But it’s more than the pay; it’s the experience. The ability to make friends at work was mentioned by Gen Y workers at a rate nearly three times that of Gen X and more than four times that of baby boomers, according to CREW’s Multi-Generation Survey. A boss who is friendly and easy to get along with was prized among younger workers more than older ones.
■ Accessible work hours. The concept of a typical workday is obsolete among Gen Y. Because they grew up with technology, Millennials are accustomed to anytime, anywhere access. That means working from home, monitoring systems at 2am and updating their social networks at work.
■ Non-traditional work spaces. Offices and cubicles may quickly become relics of an earlier time, but so could many of the face-to-face meetings to which we’re accustomed. Web and videoconferencing, file sharing and web tools allow people to collaborate in real time across the office or across the world. Some companies are creating open work spaces, with alcoves and snugs for impromptu gatherings.
■ Flexible work devices. Specifically, their own mobiles. Gen Y grew up with technology, and their mobiles are the centre of their lives. Rather than have workers conform to your technology, let them use your technology on their devices – with the proper security precautions and end-point management, of course. But don’t let security concerns derail a BYOD policy.
■ Location, location, location. The whereabouts of your office is important for commuting purposes if employees cannot work remotely. Research from Lloyds Bank reveals that 18 of the 20 most popular areas for young professionals are in the London area. The other two are Hove and central Brighton. But these areas are pricey. Other popular locales include south Manchester and areas in Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham. In terms of affordability, Durham, Nottingham and Liverpool are the best bets for those aged 22 to 39, according to property consultancy Knight Frank.
■ Provide feedback – often. Younger staff crave a challenging work environment and a chance to grow. If you want to develop and retain top talent, your managers must invest time and energy in providing consistent feedback. And they must move quickly to promote or give additional responsibilities to effective employees. If your company isn’t providing the right type of environment for Millennials, they’ll go elsewhere.
■ Listen to your younger employees. This might sound obvious, but how do you create a company culture and working environment to attract and retain Gen Y employees? Ask them. But understand that what works in your organisation might not work in another in the same industry. And company culture can be difficult to change in firms that have been around for decades.
■ But don’t ignore your other employees. While it’s true that Millennials are projected to comprise the majority of workers by 2025, you likely still have more Gen Xers and boomers in your companies at present. In the mad rush to attract and keep qualified younger workers, you don’t want to ostracise those who have been by your side from the beginning. What programmes and opportunities does your company have that appeal across the spectrum of employees? What might appeal to older workers? You should be listening to every employee.
■ Trust your gut. There is no one-size-fits-all scenario or magic Swiss army knife to create the perfect environment for Millennials. Ask your Millennial workers what they’re looking for, find out what other companies are doing, create a company culture that values every worker and be prepared to trust your gut when it comes to making decisions.
Mark Banfield is vice president, international at Autotask
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