We live in the century of speed, where people have learned to adapt to new conditions quickly and efficiently. While this makes employees independent, it has become quite an issue for building a close-knit team of employees together and getting them to work as a team. This is also the century of change, where everybody wants to experiment, expand, and explore. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, this is makes it much harder nowadays to create a team in the true sense of the word precisely because employees have become self-oriented rather than company-oriented.
In this article, we will lay out the issues that come with the new generation of employees, as well as the current values of work ethic. We will also provide useful tips on how to use this as an advantage for creating a strong team that can direct their efforts into making the company grow. It is essential that employers adapt to the major changes of the 21st century because the current workforce has a never-before-seen potential for greatness, which should be maximized.
The Essential Changes in the 21st Century Workforce vs. the Traditional Company Style
Not long ago, when new companies were shaping the future of entrepreneurship in every single line of business, employees were blown away by the novelty of what came with each big idea. Employers gave them not only a job, but something to believe in. The concept of the company became intertwined in the goals of the employees and the best part of this was that it happened naturally.
Employees got to see the companies they were working for make history, which built a type of confidence in the company goals, which was able to last for a very long time. And time has proven that it has. There are titan businesses that still have some of the employees that they have started out with. And they are loyal to their workplace to the day.
Moreover, since this process took time to develop, the confidence that the employees got was solid. Time is the essential element that has led to the superficial type of trust that employees have in their companies nowadays. In the past decade, the number of start-up companies has boomed, which meant that quite a few of them have eventually failed to reach their business goals.
As such, employees have gotten to experience their companies’ failures, which has left a blatant mark on their ability to trust. In the beginning, every well-established start-up promises to thrive, and a great part of the employees put in their professional hopes in the development of the company. However, due to fierce nature of the business world, even the best of companies can fail, regardless of the rock-solid initial plan.
As more and more employees have witnessed the downfall of these companies that seemed unbreakable, they have developed a certain type of resistance to this type of change. In fact, it was in this decade that even companies with a longstanding reputation of success have encountered hardships, some of which have led to the demise of businesses that were at some point leaders in their markets.
The ferocity of today’s business market has made employees from both the young and the old generation get used to failure. And this is precisely what has lowered their expectations and made their skin thicker. Working for a company whose goals you can relate can be spectacular, but at the end of the day, everybody needs a job to survive.
While the traditional company model featured long-term jobs for its employees, which sometimes even turned into life-long positions, the 21st century model is the exact opposite. Nowadays, the idea of dedicating your entire life to a certain company has essentially been ruined by the economy. Moreover, the shift from mammoth companies to smaller and smaller businesses has made job diversity boom.
Not only that changing jobs is no longer taboo, it has become the natural state of the employment system. Employees change their jobs for professional development, income enhancement, and even for personal convenience. We have witnessed the colossal change from a virtually static employment work to one that relies on movement.
This makes employees start out in any new job with the core view that their experience there is temporary. This reduces their interest in bonding with the company, with their co-workers, and even with the potential of the position that they are taking on. The speed of the 21st century has made employment superficial. However, this is one impediment that can be combated with the right approach and with enough perseverance.
The Highs and Lows of Employing Millennials
Nowadays, a great part of the workforce is comprised of millennials. This generation has experienced the full-length of the change from an offline world to one that lives and breathes online. The old generation has superficially adhered to the values of the online world, while still keeping their offline core values intact and the new generation was essentially born online. But millennials are those who went through the entire array of changes at a time when it had the potential to affect them far more than other generations. As a result, sometimes they’ll be awkward, because they’re used to having social networks do all the connecting for them, including breaking the ice. When they actually get to applying for the job, often times they won’t even know what skills for resume they should write, or how to leave a strong impression in face to face interview, but that’s okay. They’re built to thrive online. Understanding how millennials think is absolutely crucial for any employer who wants to build a solid team nowadays. This is the foundation of any successful employee retention technique. By applying the right approach, their qualities can be maximized and their shortcomings virtually minimized into oblivion. As long as the work environment is made to fit their needs, millennials will deliver every single time and they will thrive as valuable employees.
Millennials have integrated the online world into every single part of their lifestyle, including communication. As such, it should come as no surprise that they will prefer to conduct most of their work-related talks via email, Skype, or other types of online messenger systems. Millennials have invested a lot of time and effort into creating and developing a solid online persona, which they have grown to feel confident as.
When they communicate online, they can interact with others as their online selves, which comes much easier to them than talking face to face with the rest of the team. This should be taken into account because facilitating online communication within the team could actually improve results and increase productivity.
Millennial Social Interaction
Since the vast majority of communication is performed online, millennials have grown to keep most of their social interactions in the online world. Instead of meeting up with friends for coffee, it is perfectly natural for them to resort to a video call to talk about their day. Online social interactions can also be included in the system of the company as part of the meeting procedures because it will make them feel far more comfortable in their position.
Creativity is one of the best features of millennials. Since they have had to adapt to new social elements all throughout their upbringing, they can process information much faster than the previous generation, and come up with solid ideas for virtually any given situation. Their creativity should be regarded as an asset and it should be nurtured at all times.
How To Get 21st Century Employees Invested in the Company
Due to the short-lived jobs that are so common nowadays, employees do not get to create a bond with the companies they work for anymore. But while trust and genuine interest take time to build, there are a few things that can be done to get their employees invested in their position, as well as the future of the company.
Essentially, 21st century employers must recreate the charm and power of 20th century companies in a far shorter time. Then, they must invest in a long-term retention plan that will continue on the foundation laid by this initial stage. In the following section of our article, we will tell you the main steps of each of these two phases which are crucial for building trust among employees.
The Initial Stage – The Basis of Retention
When dealing with new employees, it is of the utmost importance that they are introduced into the company spirit as soon as possible. However, this is quite a complicated task considering that each person responds to different stimuli. Therefore, HR specialists must develop a general presentation of the company, its main ideas, as well as its short and long-term goals. This can come in the form of a video, or an actual pitch done by the managerial team.
From a retention standpoint, new employees should be regarded as new clients and they need to be impressed. This is why the presentation must be touching; it must be able to make the people watching it curious about the company and provide them with the full set of info that could make them relate to the business goals that will, hopefully, become their own. However, this is only one part of the initial stage.
While the general company presentation must be made to suit all types of people, it must be followed by a discussion based on it. This should ideally be carried out by the employees’ direct managers, who already know enough about them to make things personal. This is immensely important because this is where the true connection is generated.
The general presentation will make employees identify the common elements they share with the company. But it is the discussion afterwards that will make them solidify these connections and even find out elements that they have missed initially. This part of the introductory program from new employees has immense potential as long as it is carried out correctly.
Considering that the aim of the program is to build a connection with the employees, those who are part of it must display genuine enthusiasm. They will be perceived as representatives of the company and, moreover, of its principles and goals, which is why they should be invested in the presentations they make. In fact, artificial presentations may actually have the exact opposite effect.
If the program managers do not show a true connection with the company, the new employees may actually regard the company as the impersonal corporation model, which is void of feeling. This will prevent them from opening up personally and getting to know the depths of the company from other reasons than a professional obligation. Treating employees superficially will lead to shallow connections with the company.
Understanding the importance of this initial stage, the influence it can have on the development of the employees within the company, as well as the immense potential it has for the future is the motivation that the managerial team handling it needs to build up that genuine enthusiasm for it. Small elements such as this one will end up shaping the development of the employees.
The Long Term Retention Plan – An Ongoing Battle for Keeping Employees
A solid employee retention plan must be made for the long term because it must be carried out for the entire duration of the employment period. There are numerous aspects that must be taken into consideration for this plan and they must be blended together to get the maximum effect.
If the employee retention plan is not thought out as a whole, it might not have the effect it is expected to. While single elements of the plan can have certain positive effects, when they are enforced together, the cumulated effect will be that much bigger.
This entails that each element must be thought of as being part of the strategy and integrated into a timeline that can maximize this synergic effect. From office environment to benefits and bonuses and all the way to team building activities, the range of elements can be impressive.
It is up to the HR specialists to define how each of these can be adapted to fit the company. They will create the intricate timeline web that will refresh the employee’s’ interest in the workplace constantly and that will keep on solidifying their connection with the company.
Setting Up the Office Environment – The Importance of Office Space
An office is far more than a few tables, some comfortable chairs, and the best computers on the market. The office is the second home of the employees, as they spend a great part of their day there. This is why, it should be made to feel like an actual home. As Google has masterfully proven, setting up a comfortable and relatable environment for employees can greatly improve productivity.
It must provide the employees with privacy, as well as one or several spaces where they can relax and interact with their coworkers. Office space must be correlated with the HR development plan because it can be used to put into practice some excellent daily team building activities.
Making employees comfortable will stimulate them to work better because it eliminates the stress that comes with working in a stiff environment. Moreover, including a relaxation area in the office can provide them with a space where they can rest and clear their heads within company premises.
This is extremely important because it affects the general idea of the workplace. As long as the relaxation area is in the same place, the overall perception of the workplace is all that more positive. And then a simple office can truly be turned into a second home.
Regular Team Building Activities
As we have mentioned above, working with the slightly antisocial generation of the 21st century can prove to be quite difficult when it comes to social activities. In the age of freelancing, people must be motivated to take part in activities where they interact with their co-workers on a personal level.
And there are two types of team building activities that can have stellar effects on the development of a team. On one hand, employees need to participate in longer activities to get to know each other on a personal level and interact with their co-workers outside of the office.
These type of activities have the potential to eliminate the stress that comes with working with artificial acquaintances, and actually get the members of a team to know and trust each other. Even if they are not initially inclined to take part in these, their interest might be spiked when they realize that they share certain things with people they were not expecting to have anything in common.
On the other hand, the positive effects of these longer team building activities must be nurtured by repeating the experience in a shorter format. Whether it’s Friday Happy Hour or daily coffee breaks, these short moments can preserve the connections established during the longer activities.
Another benefit of these short team buildings is creating an environment for creativity where everybody can pitch in. By witnessing the qualities of their teammates in non-professional situations, it might make it for employees to rely on one another and even work together better.
If you have a remote team, virtual team building activities work well too.
Making Individual Employees Work Together
Even the most self-oriented of employees will invest time and effort into projects that can bring them benefits and that they genuinely believe in. While it may not be their initial intention to devote themselves to a company in particular, they can be motivated into it and all it takes is the right approach.
One of the most important factors of this approach is making them feel that they are part of a team. The employees must know the personal and professional strong suits of their co-workers to grow to trust them and, eventually include them in their work plans from their own initiative.
Managers must find the best ways to get the members of their teams to interact professionally. This goes for online, too. This will give them a first-hand experience of their peers’ qualities, which will build confidence within the team. From small tasks that they must carry out together to group presentations and even inter-department projects, there are countless ways to stimulate employees to work together.
Gathering Feedback from Employees
You might wonder how the HR and management team could come up with well-crafted retention plans that are personalized to the needs and objectives of the company and its employees. Naturally, they cannot be expected to know what the employees are thinking at all times, which is why they ask them.
Employee feedback can provide valuable information about how every step of the process has been perceived. It can point out the limitations of the strategy and give way to making essential improvements in the plan. In fact, developing team activities and even business development strategies based on the feedback provided by the people within has a far better potential of proving successful.
In addition to this, feedback should be gathered regularly to signal potential issues from their early stages, when they might be easier to sort out. This will minimize conflict within the team and exclude the damaging effects that such situations could have on the team as a whole.
Moreover, being asked for feedback will make employees feel appreciated, which will increase their level of comfort at the company. The simple idea that their opinion matters will make them trust their employers and make them feel inclined to put in extra effort in their work.
Keeping a close-knit team of employees in the 21st century is a central objective for productive business development. This must be carried out with a long-term strategy and maintained for the entire duration of the employment period to maximize productivity.
The proper approach for this type of strategy is based on establishing trust in the company. Employees must get to relate to the objectives of their company and this can only be done through genuine interest in their formation process.
The ideal elements for the strategy as well as the best way for these to be put into action must be determined by HR specialists. They can assess the needs of the employees and correlate them with the company goals to relay a solid plan that will turn individual employees into a team.
About the Author:
Philip Piletic focuses primarily on the fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. He is an editor, writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. In love with startups, latest tech trends and helping others get their ideas off the ground. Philip would like to thank LockedOn for helping with this article.