The Workplace - August 2018

The Workplace - Guy HaywardWhen I look at my job spec and at what is on my ‘to do list’, it has changed dramatically from even 12 months ago. Increasingly, I am spending my time inside organisations, not just to talk recruitment but to help them build an employer brand – and I’m loving it.

How can organisations improve the working experience for their people, and how does this turn into a brand that tells a compelling story for future talent?

What has struck me over the past year in these conversations is the tendency to generalise: businesses not having a permutation of ideas, or combination of initiatives, to engage all; or not recognising that different generations of varying age profiles require, need and want different things.

There seems to be an unhealthy emphasis on building people strategies around the millennials, when we work in a world where we have high levels of generational diversity. The employment rate for people aged 50-64 is at a record high, and has increased by almost 15% over the past 10 years, as people are staying in work longer. Yet articles and papers discussing retention centre overwhelmingly on millennials. Imagine if the discussion was overwhelmingly about retention strategies for us all, and the impact this would have on an employer brand. Nobody wants to work in an office with the age diversity of a ‘boy band’.

Some companies are deliberately targeting older demographics. Barclays’ ‘Welcome Back Programme’, supporting older workers at the bank, is inspiring. Insurance company Aviva’s desire to hire 1,000 ‘older than 50’ members of staff by 2022 is wonderfully ambitious – the rewards that have followed from hiring from within the ‘baby boomer’ generation is well publicised.

I’m working with a housing association (HA) that has made a big play to hire an older generation to complement youth. Its point is that someone in their mid-50s, for example, wants to come to work for camaraderie, not out of necessity, thus injecting a burst of energy into the office. The HA’s hiring across generations has introduced exciting debate on ideas about experience and youth. Its engagement strategies, as a result, are wonderful in their diversity.

Another company appreciating age diversity is SEO and search marketing agency Propellernet. It claims to ‘make life better’ for its employees with benefits that celebrate their differences. My personal favourite of these benefits is the company’s Dreamball Machine, which builds the dreams of its teams into the business plan. What is central to making this benefit work, and gaining Propellernet its sixth-place award in the Great Place to Work league, is that the Dreamball Machine allows employees to decide what it is that inspires them personally. The company has rejected the idea that the younger generation crave pool tables and the older generation don’t, and lets its people decide what they want.

For every 20-year-old worried they aren’t being taken seriously, there’s a 50-year-old concerned they’re being thrown on the scrap heap. Yet combining the concerns of the two groups, and having a range of approaches for their engagement, is wonderfully powerful.

Guy Hayward – redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

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