Engaging Gen Y

HRM 20 Nov 2012

Shalini Bhateja

Global Director – Talent Development, Schneider Electric

This question is at the top of the minds of most organisations around the globe.

With age demographics changing across the world, Gen Y is going to be the most critical workforce in the coming years. Hence, in order to engage them and harness their full potential, HR need to first understand what motivates Gen Y.

Gen Y is more creative, tech savvy, green and energetic. They do not understand how people can work in the same company for a long time – terms like loyalty and retention have different meanings for them. Most of them have been brought up in an almost affluent environment where the basics of life were never the issue. Hence, their frame of mind is not to just make ends meet and lead a good life, but make a difference wherever they are.

Understanding these aspects about them is critical for HR. If this generation is more involved in decision making, mirror groups, cross business projects and the like, they will feel more valued and engaged. Also, companies which have a strong social economy strategy and a strong social engagement model will be able to attract and retain this workforce as this satisfies their core need to make a difference. The key for HR is to think like Gen Y and design their Employee Value proposition in a way that will fit them.


Ajit Iyer

HR Director, Proprietary Pharmaceutical Division – Asia, Africa, Australia, Middle East, Abbott Laboratories

In three simple words: Think Like Them. As HR professionals, our foremost role is to identify, attract, develop and retain top talent. Therefore, we need to ensure we are shaping the workplaces we lead to leverage on what these set of employees have to offer. In my years working in HR, I was instrumental in hiring and managing many Gen Y employees. This experience has been invaluable in shaping my views on the most effective ways to do so. Here are a few key aspects I would not lose sight of:

•        Communicate Candidly:

          Ensure you create a forum where your senior executives can communicate directly with Gen Y.

•        Design and build a simple and accessible organisation:

          Ensure our organisations are not a cumbersome collection of processes. Organise Lunch-n-learn sessions between senior Gen X and upcoming Gen Y talent to thaw any ice.

•        Recognise their Choices and Rights – go with the flow:

          Work with your business leaders to create family-friendly workplace policies – telecommuting and job sharing are great options to explore. Flexible work options are another.

•        Play their game… Network and be seen as one of them:

          Visit and lecture at Universities. This is a great way to build your understanding of what motivates this group and it helps your organisation to be visible on campus.


Tina Sharma

Assistant Vice President, HR, State Bank of India, Singapore

Demands of Gen Y reflect a shifting business mindset that organisations cannot ignore. Employees of this generation want and expect more from their careers. In addition, they want to excel and move up the career ladder quickly.

HR should form strategies and implement ways to train and develop their Gen Y staff so that they can increase their value and become more productive. By doing so, it allows these workers to progress more rapidly within their organisations.

To maximise their potential, it is important to provide them with opportunities of career advancement. This can be in a form of special rotational assignments.

These tasks will keep them challenged and give them a sense that they are gaining a variety of experiences. It is an effective way to enhance their career development and prevent job boredom.

Such assignments along with a proper performance framework, benchmarks and metrics will keep them informed of what is expected of them and what they have to do to succeed in their roles. This will keep them engaged and motivated.

Effective recognition programmes that links rewards directly to performance, and provided as soon as the performance objectives are met, is another way to effectively engage Gen Y.

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