The modern workplace — gen Y style

THE nature of employment is changing as a younger generation moves through the workforce. The new era means a shift of priorities is needed for employers and employees.

“About 20 or 30 years ago you used to have a job for life,” Lance Compton said.

“Now, employees recognise it’s a contract-driven environment. You hire your contractors as you need them.” 

Brett Davis said it was important to be innovative to appeal to a younger, more tech-savvy workforce. 

“We’re very big on innovation in our engineering services,” Mr Davis said.  

“At the moment we have two key areas of innovation we’re looking into — 3D photogrammetry and reality engineering. 

“They (the younger staff) can run with those things within the organisation and create further opportunities for us.”

Karen Nelson said the organisational brand was important to gen Y and it was reflected by the workplace culture. 

“In terms of attraction, it’s key,” Ms Nelson said. “If you’re trying to attract recent graduates or new entrants to the market your brand is a significant consideration.

“You want people to be coming to you, so you know you’re attracting highly motivated, quality candidates.” 

Andrew Stephenson said more mature colleagues and younger colleagues had different sets of values in the workplace, with older employees valuing conditions, respect and recognition from their boss. 

Younger employees expected great vision, values and purpose.

“Younger employees really look at that core purpose of their organisation, and they want to believe in it,” Mr Stephenson said.

“They’re looking to sign up to a project or objective, not sign off.”

He said this helped with retention as they could see beyond the next job, giving them the desire to stay within the business instead. 

“At our last graduate intake we had people with offers from the ‘Big 4’ and they went with us,” he said. 

“Graduates see different stuff — it’s about the environment and culture of the business. 

“They need to see themselves progressing; our role is to keep them engaged and happy because having a committed, motivated workforce focused on the customer is the fastest way to excellence we know.”

Janet Curran said training was another workplace benefit that worked well to attract, engage and retain particularly younger employees.

“Gens Y and Z are looking for employers who offer professional development and career opportunities,” Ms Curran said.

“If you can demonstrate that you are developing their skills and giving them a career path you will retain them.

“For the next generation, giving them professional development continuously and showing pathways for them as part of the company, is exactly what they’re looking for.”

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