Human Resource Summit 2013 – Engaging the Hearts of Your Gen Y Employees

Calls to challenge existing management thinking made my inner rebel sit up and listen as an attendee and presenter at this week’s HR Summit 2013.

Keynote speaker Anja Foerster and author of the best seller “Anything but Ordinary” summed it up – the successful workplace of the future is the one with employees who have that “sparkle,” – that’s the ultimate competitive advantage.  It’s the sparkle that enables them to engage their creativity, heart and initiative as they smile all the way to the office.  It’s the sparkle that surpasses all generations from Y to Zoomer.

I felt my inner sparkle return in hearing stories of workplaces that are doing things differently.  Companies willing to trust their employees to do the right thing while doing away with much of the control and process that can wear people down and thus cause them to leave their full human capability at home.  Gen Y wants guidelines – not policies.  They want to be more self-directed and have more autonomy and freedom.  Challenging them, giving them the latest technology, respect and rewarding them often are other sure fire ways to engage their hearts.

One company provides its employees with no guidelines on travel expenses. They can choose whatever hotel, travel first class and drink expensive champagne.  One catch though – their expenses are published for all to see so knowing that keeps them honest and ensures they do the right thing.

Then there is Facebook with its “Hackathons” in which the company’s Gen Y employees choose to work through the night on new ideas – some resulting in breakthrough innovations.  At the same time others amount to nothing more than a sleepless night.  The company’s catchcry is fail big and fail fast which supports its history of risk taking and breakthrough innovation.

If there was one consistent message for HR practitioners of the future, it’s to grasp the impact of social networking on the way work gets done.

In speaking about Gen Y and developing new employee skillsets, I shared the Text100 story around converting our consultants to social and digital ways of communication, collaboration and creation at work.  With 75% of our Gen Y staff who love social networking and get these concepts, we’ve leaped ahead into the future with ease and grace.  It seems fear still holds back some companies from allowing their employees to integrate social media into their daily lives and get work done in a different way.

The new way is one that enables people to sparkle with their hearts and brains fully engaged at work.  The challenge for HR is to be the business partner that can help make that happen.

What are your HR policies, and how are you approaching this new social revolution with employees?  When was the last time you felt your inner sparkle shine through at work?


Photo credit: CC Sharonkubo

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