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Feb 13

Retaining, Motivating and Engaging The Millennial Workforce

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 The article won the first prize and was published at MBASkool for the HR Magazine of LBSIM and also by FMS Delhi’s HRegatta – HR magazine.

Introduction

One of the most valuable assets of any company are its employees. Retaining these employees and getting the best talent possible to join their organisation should be among the top priorities of human resource organisations. Talented employees can well serve as a competitive advantage for the companies and can be a major differentiator between competing companies. Mr. Narayan Murthy, ex-CEO Infosys, once famously quoted “Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning.” We believe that not only should the employees come back the next morning but they should come back the next day, equally motivated and energised.

The three major challenges for Human Resource professionals in today’s time are –

  1. How do we retain the talent pool in our organisation and reduce attrition rates?
  2. How do we continuously engage our employees and make them feel a vital part of the company so that they feel they are come up with creative out of box solutions to problems?
  3. How do we continue to motivate employees to give their best performance every day, even when some of them are working on the same mundane tasks day in and out?

Retaining, Motivating and Engaging The Millennial Workforce

The aim of Human Resource Managers should be not only to retain employees but also to engage them and keep them highly motivated, so that each one of them works to their full potential. On time promotions and increasing salary based on growth of company are more of hygiene factors that are expected by employees and the company should look to providing these. But just focussing on increasing monetary compensation and benefits to reduce attrition is nothing but a mediocre strategy to tackle attrition – A strategy that is highly short term in its orientation, which would not yield any significant results in the long run.

Below have been outlined five steps that Human Resource Managers can take to tackle the problems that they are facing -

1. Focus on a Strong Performance Management System – Performance Management is not just about the final rating that is given to the employees at the end of the year. Project leaders and managers should look at the Performance Management System as a tool to groom employees, to understand their strengths and weaknesses, to identify the right training program for the employees and to continuously motivate them through feedback and rewards. In short the Performance Management System should be looked at as a career development and motivational tool and not just as a compensation system. One of the most important things to be kept in mind while designing a Performance Management System is to have a strong feedback mechanism to ensure that both the appraiser and appraise get relevant and timely feedback.

One of the ways to ensure that managers take performance management of their employees seriously is to link the attrition rate of the manager’s project team with his performance incentives. This means that if attrition rate of a manager’s team increases then the monetary benefits he receives decreases. Companies like Hindustan Unilever and Wipro have already started this practice.

2. Instil Creativity To Break From Monotonous Work – Most employees join companies with the thought that they will get to work on something path breaking. Employees who join marketing firms believe that now they would be creating branding strategies, integrated marketing campaigns, etc. Similarly employees joining IT companies are with a view of working on cutting edge technology, developing new programs and building next gen software. However Indian IT companies’ projects are highly skewed towards maintenance and support or testing projects. Working on these projects becomes monotonous after a point of time as employees do not find the work intellectually challenging. Hence organisations should focus on increasing creativity within the projects and Project leaders must motivate employees to look at creative ways of solving the same problem. Example – Can we design an automated script that will perform the test cases instead of manually performing them? Such creative solutions will not only continuously challenge employees and keep their skills updated, but will also help increase nonlinear revenue growths for companies.

3. Listen To Your Employees – While it is important to listen to the grievances of your employees. It is even more important to act quickly on the feedback collected from your employees. This shows that the organisation is actually interested in listening to you and the employee survey is not a farce. Organisations like Tata Consultancy Services through their employee survey PULSE, have listened to their employees and also catered to their problems. Example – TCS’s Bouquet Of Benefits which allows employees to design a part of their salary structure was a result of employee feedback received via PULSE.

Life Of Millennial

Also exit interviews should be looked at not just as a formality but as an opportunity to understand employee’s grievances and to ensure that employee feedback can be implemented to reduce attrition.

4. Creating A Millennial Friendly Workplace – The average age of employees in companies is falling down and is around 28-30 years.  This young generation or the millennial generation as we know them as, have a very different work style and companies should focus on creating policies and rules keeping in mind their work behaviour.

Today’s young work force likes flexible work timings, is one who likes constant challenges, strives for fast growth and instant recognition for efforts, does not like too many restrictions applied on them. Keeping in mind this behaviour of the millennial workforce HR policies need to be drafted. Example – FaceBook and Twitter has become a part of the life of the millennial lifestyle, companies need to look at providing employees access to these systems in their workplace albeit with a few restrictions and with a strong social media policy in place. Companies like Wipro are also working on BYOD (bring your own device) by which employees can use their own devices be at Tablets or IPhones in their workplace. Soon, all employees at Wipro will be able to get corporate data access on the device of their choice, be it iPads, Windows Phones, or iPhones. By doing this the company wants to make Wipro a trendier place that appeals to a younger audience.

5. Helping Employees Manage Stress and Maintain Health– We believe that if your employee is happy when he leaves your company for home after a day’s of work, then that would mean that the employee would carry the impression that he loves his job and hence would remain with the company for a longer period of time. Also we believe that healthy employees make for happy employees. HR managers hence should also focus on keeping employees healthy and helping them cope up with their work stress, this would automatically lead to happy employees. Example – HUL has a vitality index for employees where the personal vitality of individual employees are measured based on four parameters — the Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. Employees are then encouraged to improve upon their vitality index through fitness programs, fitness workshops, meditation and yoga sessions, sports activities organised in HUL. HUL is also looking at attaching monetary incentives to the vitality index, to further motivate employees to stay fit and take care of themselves.

 Thus through the above mentioned pointers HR managers can focus on the three major problems of retention, motivation and engagement of the millennial workforce. Thereby improving employee productivity and reducing employee attrition rates.


Amit Kaundinya

Business Analyst at Wipro Technologies
I have a passion for consulting and thankfully that is what I do for a living. I currently work as a Business Analyst in a leading IT company. I have an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from Xavier Institute Of Management, Bhubaneswar. Prior to my MBA, have been a Project lead at Tata Consultancy Services for 2.5 years.

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