Developing a Culture of Employee Development for Young Generation at Work

August 31, 20202:33 pm2368 views
Developing a Culture of Employee Development for Young Generation at Work
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For years, the “rate-and-rank” annual employee performance review has served as the foundation for merit pay increases, bonuses and promotions for many industries. But does such a traditional approach towards employee development still suit younger workers? 

More and more human resources executives are seeing that traditional employee development is too formal and inflexible, especially for younger workers. Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000, already outnumber baby boomers in the workforce. Research by Catalyst found that 41 percent of the global population will be 24 years old or younger, whereas people between ages 15 and 24 make up almost 20 percent of the world’s population. The number of baby boomer employees in the workplace will continue to shrink in the years ahead, driven in part by early retirement packages offered by companies struggling to survive in an ongoing low-cost environment. 

See also: Workplace Risk Management and Culture

What do millennials want?  

Multiple studies show that millennials prefer frequent and informal feedback from supervisors over a once-a-year structured and often uncomfortable appraisal. Timeliness is critical as millennials have grown up in a world where personal technology is ubiquitous and communication is instant. To a young worker, it makes no sense to discuss how a major project was handled months down the line, during a formal review session. 

Millennials are hungry for ongoing dialogue and coaching, and are more willing to accept constructive direction if it is given out in small doses where they can make adjustments along the way. They also value the opinion of their peers, perhaps as much or more so than that of their supervisors. Most millennials prefer working in groups and seeking consensus to solve problems or complete tasks, rather than operating independently. Thus, being accepted and recognized as a team player is critical to their overall job satisfaction. 

New approaches to performance management should be available. Here are some good ideas for HR leaders: 

  • Separating performance review or appraisal from compensation. The first step in this process is often the elimination of formal ratings, where an employee is graded on a numeric scale and then given an annual raise or bonus based upon that number.
  • Encouraging more frequent and less formal performance discussions between supervisors and employees. This requires ongoing communication and training to confirm that supervisors understand how to give meaningful feedback immediately after a project or assignment, and how often to sit down with employees for more in-depth performance discussions. Some companies encourage monthly check-ins, while others less frequently. But the trend is to allow the supervisor and his/her employees to set the tempo, rather than dictate a schedule and force compliance.
  • Focusing on the frequency and immediacy of feedback, not creating a file that will follow an employee indefinitely.
  • Testing new technologies that allow supervisors and peers to quickly assess and communicate performance. Sending a sentence or two of positive feedback or direction via an Uber-like app, for example, allows communication to flow continuously. 

The use of technology in providing timely feedback can be a double-edged sword, however, especially when those systems are open to peers and internal customers. While feedback apps facilitate instant communication, they also have the potential to create difficulties when used to criticize an employee’s performance or work habits. The good news is that there are a number of tools already on the market that incorporate sentiment or text analysis software to block overly negative or abusive comments or to flag comments for review by a supervisor or administrator. 

Another key element surrounding feedback technology tools is that they must be designed for mobile use. That means simple interfaces and few clicks. No one wants a clunky app that is difficult to use, especially young generations who love simplicity and easy interfaces. The whole idea is to make it easy to create and post feedback on the go and in real time. 

The growth in human resource-related technology is creating its own challenge because the rapid pace of innovation makes it difficult for human resource professionals to stay on top of new offerings. At the same time, it also shows us that feedback and response apps and tools are here to stay, and most will be integrated with goal-setting software if they aren’t already. If your company is not investigating how technology can help redefine performance management and employee development, you are falling behind.

Read also: 3 Tricks to Improve Workplace Culture in the New Normal 

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