Generation Y workers – who we at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) define as those born after 1992 – today make up 60 per cent of the workforce in India. By 2020 the average age in India is predicted to be just 29 years old. This means that Indian tech companies have had to understand Generation Y faster than those in other markets. This includes helping the older generation to learn to behave like Generation Y so that they can manage and understand them better.
Having grown up amid the home computing and internet revolutions, Generation Y brings new ways of thinking and working into the workplace. Digital communicators by default, they think entrepreneurially and demand immediacy in all aspects of their life. They are instinctive multitaskers and meritocrats but they can also be more high maintenance than many employers are used to; expecting greater autonomy and freedom to innovate in their work, but also plenty of support when it comes to performance feedback and mentoring.
At TCS, we have two priorities when it comes to Generation Y: attracting the best talent and making sure that we keep them with us for the long term.
Attracting the best talent to tech
Any industry needs to appeal to the next generation of talent to succeed, and the pace of technological change makes it imperative for tech companies to hire and build their talent pool accordingly. As a company headquartered in India, we invest a great deal of time and resources into educating and exciting young people about the potential careers available to them within the technology sector. We work with the education system to make sure that schools have the skills they need to teach computing properly and TCS engineers help to devise IT curriculums that keep pace with the rapid rate of technological change.
The UK tech industry has some great initiatives in place to try and engage with young people and get them excited about technology and the potential career paths it offers. However, there is still more work to do to make sure IT appeals to as many young people as possible.
When it comes to the recruitment process itself, many employers make the mistake of just telling their Generation Y employees about the benefits package. You must tell them about the culture as well. Generation Y does not just care about the financial side of things, so your business should show that you have a collaborative culture, which is inclusive, open and transparent.
Hugely ambitious, Generation Y workers want greater control over their career, and they always want to know where they stand and what they need to do to progress. Make it clear that employees have input into their goal setting and showcase development opportunities. Show that you want to help them reach the next level and design quality training to help employees up-skill and follow the career path that is right for them.
Creating a Generation Y-friendly environment
One of the defining Generation Y characteristics is their belief in meritocracy. Of course, most organisations strive to be meritocratic but you should amplify this for Generation Y. Make clear that opportunities are open to anyone with the right abilities, regardless of their age or background. Give Generation Y workers opportunities to meet with customers and work on onsite projects, and create a fast track for high-potential employees. This shows Generation Y employees that you are rewarding people for talent and hard work.
Generation Y has been brought up in a world of instant celebrity. Star performances must receive instant recognition – gifts, large or small, and constant appreciation of the work they are doing can really make a difference to morale. This is also a good way to internally promote success, not only to provide instant gratitude to the recipient, but to demonstrate to others the value the business puts on outstanding performance.
Generation Y is particularly good at voicing opinions; embracing that can drive changes for a better organisation. Businesses that run a satisfaction survey and take it seriously see great benefits, especially if they publish findings and action plans to show that feedback has been taken on board.
At TCS, we have seen first hand the value that embracing Generation Y attitudes and behaviours can bring. This approach began in India but it has proved so successful that it has been rolled out across our global organisation. The future belongs to Generation Y and we believe these workers will bring a new wave of fresh ideas, energy and innovation into the industry. The most successful organisations in the next decade and beyond will therefore be those that can best adapt themselves to make the most of the ambition and enthusiasm that this new generation offers.
Ajoyendra Mukherjee is executive vice president and head of global human resources at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He is writing for V3 as part of our Make IT Better campaign to improve computing learning in schools.
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