Zurich: Lunch & Learn

28 Aug 2012

Employees Of The Future: Who They Are and What They Want

Peter Vogel MSc ETH

IHRC began the 2nd half of it’s 2012 programme looking forward to “Employees of the Future: Who They Are and What They Want”. Multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-lingual; transitioning between academia and commerce whilst studying for a PhD in Entrepreneurship, running his own companies (HR Matching AG and The Entrepreneurs’ Ship) and contributing to advisory bodies and think-tanks; Peter Vogel appears to embody many of the characteristics of this group.

To provide important background and context, Peter gave us a quick overview of the various groups that have emerged since WWII; from the Silent Generation through to Baby Boomers and then onto to Generations X and Y. He also introduced Generation Z, who are likely to start entering the employment market from 2014 onwards – less than 2 years away !!

Peter also provided important context for these groups, referring to political, economic, social and technological changes over the last 50+ years, which have had major impact and influence on each of the groups in turn. He referred to economic instability, quickening of boom and bust cycles, globalisation and divorce rates. Not to mention the impact of technology on personal and professional communication and relationships – think Facebook … !!

The profiles of Generation Y and Z are fascinating and complex: They need variety, feel they are making an difference through their work, be inspired by others and want to make an impact through what they do. Loyalty to employers must now be earned, with Entrepreneurship, Not-for-Profit and Academia as alternative or parrallel career paths. Money and speed of career progression are of higher importance, whilst stability and longevity are less signficant.

However, Peter emphasised that these characteristics are signs of an emerging trend, as opposed to universally applicable. They should be seen in social and economic context, particularly; youth unemployment and jobs deficits in many Western countries compared with the War for Talent in China, India and Brazil. Cultural factors can play a part and there is also the intention-action gap.

All of this presents a number of opportunities and challenges for organisations and, consequently HR, along the employee lifecycle. To summarise, Generation Y and Z may provide companies with the opportunity to introduce new talents and fresh perspectives, but they may be high on ideas and low on experience. Reward packages may need to include benefits like stock options, which would otherwise have been based on seniority. Flexible working may present opportunities to work in global and virtual teams across continents and time zones. However, as more and more jobs are outsourced, can employers provide development and security of employment to retain their new talents, develop vital skills and protect intellectual property ??

So how could companies and, therefore HR, respond? As well as the above, Peter mentioned the need for companies to have a clear vision and to communicate meaning from recruitment onwards, with Ethics as an important part of their employer brand, enabling employees of the future to envision how they can contribute. He recommended following Google and Cisco by becoming more “intrapreneurial” and providing employees with opportunities for their own projects within their roles. Training and development should be given more emphasis, with cross-generational mentoring as an important part of any programmes. Attitudes to work-life balance may need to change, with open access to social media and the workplace becoming a community that employees chose to belong to.

To find out more, Peter can be contacted via email to peter.vogel@hrmatching.com, @pevogel on twitter or via ch.linkedin.com/in/vogelpeterText by Hilary Frazer
Photos by James Macsay