Talent Management

Digital Natives: Is Your Company a Go-To Place For Gen Y Workers?

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You may know them as Millennials, Gen Y, Echo Boomers or the Peter Pan Generation. Whatever you call them, “Digital Natives” will form 70 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Your ability to attract and retain them will be critical to your company’s success. Because of their ease of interacting with technology, Digital Natives are changing the way businesses must work in order to prosper.

Businesses as different as IBM and BestBuy are already taking steps to adapt to Digital Native work preferences and address the different ways Digital Natives absorb, use and manage information. The efficiency and effectiveness of your processes can serve as a kind of proving ground in your ability to attract and retain the best of this new generation of worker.

Personal behavior carries into their work life

Digital Natives transact most of their personal business online. Immediate accessibility and self-service are the hallmarks of the highest service levels. These behaviors and expectations carry over into their work life.

They expect the same immediate access to information at work as in their personal transactions. They do not want to be bound to a desk, but use the same smart mobile devices for work and personal life.

They are energized, not stressed, by technological change. They rely less on static information acquired through research and more on experiential knowledge to inform their work.

Your business process must not only accommodate these expectations but empower them if you expect to recruit and retain good employees. In a Ricoh-commissioned global survey by IDC, 75.9 percent of respondents experienced serious business risk and/or compliance issues as a direct result of ineffective processes over the past five years. The second most frequently mentioned consequence (by 30.2 percent of respondents) was that they lost key employees.

The global survey also showed benefits that would appeal to Digital Natives and their co-workers by creating a responsive, agile workplace. More than 83 percent of study respondents indicated that optimizing customer-facing processes would increase revenue — on average by 10.1 percent.

Including Digital Natives in the process

Respondents estimated that they could speed the time to get products to market by 13.4, by streamlining new product development, manufacturing, and supply chain functions. This kind of culture appeals to Digital Natives, enabling them to get more out of, and do more with, timely information. Frustrated Digital Natives may not hesitate to find a more efficient and energized work environment, leaving you with a growing talent shortage in the years to come.

If your processes don’t support an agile, and increasingly remote or mobile, workplace culture, look for opportunities to transform them and include your Digital Natives in the process.

Conduct regular process reviews. A recent study showed that a surprising number of companies do not: 56 percent only spent up to one day reviewing processes, and a little over a third of the respondents admitted that they felt not enough time is spent reviewing processes. Include Digital Native subject matter experts in the planning and implementation phases of process improvements.

Use business process overhauls to feed Digital Natives’ love of mobility and the latest technology. Simply providing VPN access does not work effectively. The information must be available in a secure and searchable format to support the anytime, anywhere worker.

A proving ground to attract and retain Digital Natives

Increase the channels and depth of experiential knowledge transfer to Digital Natives by building bridges between workforce generations. Empower Digital Natives to be mentors themselves, helping Boomers and Gen Xers learn to leverage mobile devices and cloud solutions.

Promote the transformations you are making to support the latest devices, your openness to BYOD policies, and the collaborative use of social media. Encourage Digital Natives to promote your workplace through social media. And don’t forget your web presence; your corporate sites should reflect the dynamic nature of your culture — looking for information on your organization needs to be a great experience, to demonstrate your processes are working smoothly.

Your processes can be viewed as a proving ground for your ability to attract and retain talent from the growing Digital Native workforce. Improved processes also help bring more immediate benefits in making your business more agile and productive. And that’s a win-win for all the generations in your workplace.

Terrie Campbell is vice president, strategic marketing, for Ricoh Americas Corporation. Contact her at terrie.campbell@ricoh-usa.com.
  • Scott Span

    I like the mention of focus on process. Though we do include embracing technology on out list of Top 10 Ways to Engage GenY Employees: http://goo.gl/gZCX0 other factors contribute as well… one thing a Boomer colleague of mine reminded me of when we were speaking on a conference panel on the topic of cross generational engagement, not all Boomers are afraid of technology and not all don’t want to learn no embrace technology – the younger workforce needs the patience to teach them. Thus, though I think it important to have the policies and procedures in place to attract and retain this demographic, it is also important to have a culture of cross communication and learning.