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Why the tech industry is suddenly focusing on people and culture

Companies are now learning fast that the millennials in their ranks will not put up with bad treatment in silence

Tech companies are slowly waking up to the fact that they are only as good as the people they hire – and retain. While other businesses have been embracing this for years, the tech giants and startups have lagged behind, working on the principle that their technology is their talent.

This thinking has been exposed recently in a series of events that reached the mainstream media. Firstly, whistle-blowers at Amazon’s Seattle offices declared their corporate world as intense as the already-exposed warehouse culture, with employees expected to answer emails after midnight and stay late into the night. This was closely followed by an expose into Uber’s rating systems and the PR disaster that followed the CEO’s recorded rampage in the back of one of his own cabs. Both events hurt their companies; in addition, they drew attention to the tech industry’s failings, resulting in several new and interesting HR ideas coming to the surface.

Employee success managers

Companies are now learning fast that the millennials in their ranks will not put up with bad treatment in silence. While they might still be unable to get up and walk out, the social media tools on their smartphones make them a community that can quickly give their firm a bad name.

Millennials expect to be rewarded for their hard work, and their loyalty must be earned. People success managers are now a very real set of employees whose only goal is to ensure other employees feel valuable.

Some will argue that these roles have been around since time began in the form of an HR department; however, others will profess that HR has so many other roles, such as payroll and recruitment, that proactively managing existing employee wellbeing is impossible. What’s more, this new HR is not only about resolving conflicts between employees but also meeting the expectations of a new generation whereby the customer and employee are often the same person.

Millennial generation expert.

PwC recognises that around half its employees are now what would loosely be referred to as ‘millennials’. These employees grew up with technology in the palm of their hands and went through school and college hearing terms such as ‘flat hierarchy’ and ‘work-life balance’ spoken without irony.

For many workers in the generation before, these terms are laughable. Everyone knows companies like to talk the talk; however, these terms are set in stone for millennials. They do not feel any embarrassment saying they have a community college class at 6pm that cannot be missed, or that they practise a tech-free weekend. Since they now make up the workforce, businesses are forced to take note.

Hijacking the culture

Many will argue that ‘employee success managers’ is an oxymoron in tech, as all employees are simply putting in the hours until they become successful enough to break free. This may be the case; however, if a company wants to retain talent, grow new business and stay on top, it needs to play along. Once this has been achieved, it can begin to develop new strategies for remaining an employer of choice and a tech-darling in its customers’ eyes.

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