How to get and keep the best young employees
Young workers today are digital natives. They take for granted the ability to access information anywhere, anytime. For them, work is something you do, not somewhere you go.
Do you remember the first time you played with a computer, accessed the internet or switched on a smartphone? Think about how these technologies have changed the ways you get things done.
Now think about the young workers of today, who have grown up with these technologies and take them for granted.
"Generation Next is a new term that embraces a new way of thinking. It refers to the people who grow up with technology - they use it differently to older generations who have had to adapt to it," says Casey Wright, Telstra's general manager of Business Mobility, Plans & Offers.
"Technology changes the boundaries of where you work and how you work. Employees are no longer tied down to a location or to doing things a certain way."
The workplace today is not just your office; it can be the train, your favourite cafe, the local park - and if you want a view of the beach as you work, why not? The range of devices available today help you work from anywhere.
"A lot of people may think it is not for me, that they don't do things that way," says Wright. "But the brightest and best employees have grown up with technology, it's a part of their life - they don't turn it off when they go to work.
"And if you want to attract those employees in the future, you need to offer the flexibility and integration they want and are used to having in their work lives. That is one factor.
"You also need to consider your competitors. If they are already in that space and you're not, you won't be able to compete. You want to make sure your business is one of the fastest to respond, because it's harder to implement and change if you haven't kept up with changing technology and employee communication preferences."
According to The Connected Continent study by Deloitte Access Economics, in 2010 the internet contributed around $50 billion to Australia's economy (3.6 per cent of GDP). Dollar-wise, that makes it as valuable to the nation's economy as iron ore exports.
"Therefore, technology needs to be a part of your business now, so you don't have to play catch-up later," explains Wright.
"And it doesn't have to be a big change. It could be as simple as getting a smartphone to access your email when you're away from the office so you are more responsive to your customers' enquiries.
"It's about starting on the journey and seeing technology differently - as an enabler for a business outcome rather than a specific technology."
It takes time and effort to train up young workers, but how do you keep Gen Y happy and not moving on? Sometimes it comes down to how you arm them with technology.
Gen Y employees have a reputation as being tricky to manage. The stereotype goes that they either want everything at once or decide to move on as soon as they get it.
Employers need to figure out how to train and retain young staff, while making their workplace attractive for the long term - and much of this centres around flexible approaches to technology.
This new generation are always switched on. The 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report revealed some 90 per cent of Gen Ys check their smartphones before they eat breakfast, and one in five update their Facebook accounts several times a day.
Though 40 per cent of the companies they work for have strict policies against using computers for personal activity, nearly three-quarters of these Gen Ys ignore the rules.
Tim Webber, the head of Mobility at Telstra, says the blending of personal and professional isn't going to go away, and that "businesses need to change if they want to attract the best and brightest employees" to their door.
The question for businesses is if it's better to let employees bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, or to supply smartphones and tablets that are restricted for work use.
Mobile device management (MDM) technology, which monitors mobile devices, may be the answer, says Webber.
"The days of being given a BlackBerry when you start a job because it's the most secure solution are gone and most industries … are moving to a multi-mobile platform solution with over-the-top management via MDM."
This software can be applied to both supplied or BYOD devices, and can help businesses offer a degree of freedom without compromising productivity
Bring your own device (BYOD) vs using one from the boss
The experts at HP and BlackBerry offer some advice on handling the BYOD trend.
Q: Younger workers are already highly tech-savvy. How do you teach them effectively about using work technology productively?
A: Using work technology productively is a question of flexibility and trust - but employees should be given a proper understanding of why policies are in place, where the responsibility will lie in case of something going wrong and who is there to help.
A robust mobile device management (MDM) solution is a good way to set policies around mobile use. Examples would include the ability to lock down devices in case they are lost, remotely wiping confidential data or using the tools provided to locate the last known position of the device itself.
- Manpal Jagpal, product marketing group manager, PCs, at HP
A: Many staff now have their own personal smartphone with unrestricted access to mobile internet and social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter. The temptation for staff exists to use these 'second' devices, which are not encrypted, for work purposes, which unfortunately opens up a whole range of compliance issues.
To address these challenges, companies can implement a device management solution that puts an access code on all devices, allowing company data to be wiped remotely. Businesses should also implement and communicate a clear and concise compliance code; it's extremely important that staff understand and 'buy into' the policy.
In addition, organisations can manage smartphone use by partitioning devices. Partitioning allows the company to draw a virtual line down the middle of the device. On one side is the work element, which is fully encrypted, while on the other side is the personal element of the device, which may include access to social media, personal email and a huge range of apps.
For example, customers who adopt BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10) will be able to partition devices via BlackBerry Balance.
- Matthew Ball, managing director, BlackBerry, Australia and New Zealand
Q: With regards to mobility technology, is it more cost-effective to support BYOD or supply specific hardware? What are the pros and cons of each approach?
A: Each approach brings its own costs. Giving staff a choice of hardware from a small number of approved brands can be an effective compromise. It also lets IT departments - assuming you have one - work with devices they're comfortable with.
- Manpal Jagpal, HP
Q: How can work-supplied tech (for example, tablets) contribute to loyalty and retention?
A: If you give employees the tools to work outside of the box, you can increase productivity and help work-life balance. It also shows that you trust your staff to maintain the same high standards wherever, and whenever they work.
- Manpal Jagpal, HP
A: Once employees were tied to their PCs and their desks. Now the growth of worker mobility is driving the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, and in return these devices are encouraging worker mobility.
With these developments it's easy for business owners and employees to work remotely, often with more flexible hours, which is often an attractive proposition. Employee satisfaction with their mobile technology is key - as well as the ability of the company to protect corporate data and manage costs.
- Matthew Ball, BlackBerry