The key words Generation X, Y and Z as well as employer branding are the subject of the human resources at the present time.
What does that exactly mean? What are the differences between the generations? How can they influence the working world and the recruiting process? Each generation brings certain general and work-related behaviors, abilities, value systems and needs into the workplace. These can be expressed in a variety of ways (compare Oertel, 2014). In the first part of Recruiting Generations, the characteristics and needs of Generation X will be discussed.
Who is Generation X?
The Generation X, born in 1965 to 1980 provides the majority of the working population of the western society. True to the motto: “working to survive”. They pursue a successful career and a balanced work-life. Employers do not have a significant effort with the employees. They are very consumer-oriented and they are less interested in politics and world affairs.
Other names of this generation are “carefree” or “generation of golf” (for Germany). The general name derives from the novel “Generation X – Stories for a growing culture” by Coupland (1991). They have experienced the end of the “new-economy-bubble” and the chernobyl disaster. As well as rising unemployment and the economization of wide parts of society. Their values are characterized by the pursuit of security, prosperity and career. Early in their careers, they were confronted with various forms of group work, flexible working-time models and the increasing communication and information technologies (compare Eberhardt, 2016).
The “carefree” generation
The followers of this generation were often able to grow up in an economically stable parental home. Therefore, good education played an important role. Generation X is highly educated and partly internationally oriented. They are incredibly determined in their professional live, which leads to a later family foundation. The greatest challenge for them is the arrangement of professional and private life. They are parents of younger children and at the same time in leading positions with partial international responsibility (compare Eberhardt, 2016).
How to approach Generation X?
An advantage of this generation is that on the one hand, they have already collect great deals of experience and on the other hand they sill have few years in the professional world. But how do you speak to them as an employer? First of all, it is very important to be open-minded and communicative with them. They are authentic and educated and also want to be treated like this. A large part of generation X is represented on social media sites and also use them for their job search. Therefore, it is always important to publish jobs also on these sites. These should be creatively, but also informative. In addition, this generation does not like to wait and therefore quickly losses its interest in a company, it does not answer after a few days.
The generation X represents very experienced and determined workers, who still have a few years to go to the pension. They are looking for a safe workplace with the possibility to start a successful career.
The new year 2016 has already started. In case they have not done so yet, it is time now for companies to think about what to change and how to improve. It is also a good time to think about the integration of „Employer Branding“ into the company’s program. A survey conducted by the digital marketing institute „Marketagent.com“ showed that 29,4% of the interviewed persons think that an attractive homepage of the company has very big influence on their decision to apply. 21,6% have the opinion that the communication of the company’s philosophy plays a big role. However very little firms occupy themselves with the creation of a so-called „Employer Brand“, especially small ones are afraid of doing so. But in particular these smaller companies can profit a lot from such a „brand“. So what actually is this „Employer Branding“ and is it worth it to put some effort and time in it?
Employer Branding: intersection between marketing and HR
Nowadays it became hard to find good qualified employees and it is not enough to just advertise with „a young and dynamic working atmosphere“ any more. The departments of marketing and HR have to work together very closely to design attractive job ads that communicate the company’s culture. In the survey 53,6% of the active job-seekers indicated that the quality of job ads very much influences their opinion about the company. For that reason it is extremely important to be creative and clever in designing them. Talented and attractive employees got very rare and employers really have to fight for them.
More precisely spoken the Employer Branding can be seen as a part of the Inbound Marketing in which the concentration lies on informative and highly qualitative content focused on a company as an employer. Social Media and Blogs have become popular auxiliary tools to deal with. While social media more concentrates on the quantity of people reached, blogs lie the focus on the quality of the content. Both are followed by the advantage that the target group will be formed by itself. Also with both tools it is important that content is published on a regular basis to stay in contact with interested people. Through these online activities some kind of relationship is built between the readers and the company that has to be fostered in the future.
In this „war for talents“ smaller companies often get lost. Competing successfully against big corporations with huge marketing-budgets is not easy, but certainly not impossible! Also smaller companies can be attractive for applicants, the most important thing for them is to be special.
Advice for SMEs – how to do “employer branding”
Here a few tips to be able to compete against the „big players“:
- Communication of the company’s core values to the outside: corporations like Apple, Google or EY surely have the abilities to offer great offices and cars to their employees, but very often this is not what really attracts new employees. In order to be able to keep your workers on the long term as loyal employees, you already have to start with the design of a creative job ad. The promise that is given there has to be kept so that new employees do not get frustrated.
- Identification with the firm’s identity: to be able to set oneself apart from other companies, it is even more important for smaller firms to identify their characteristics and philosophy. In the next step they have to be communicated to the outside. Very often stereotypes like „international environment“, „young, dynamic team“ and „attractive remuneration“ are used to attract new employees -although especially small firms could have the advantage of being able to advertise with nice, informal working atmosphere. Being authentic and knowing what you stand for is more important than you think.
- Closer cooperation between the departments: for the reason that in smaller companies there are not that many employees and the offices are not that big, direct communication and cooperation between the departments is possible. There are less misunderstandings and conflicts. Working in teams and having flat hierarchies are important factors for many people and also have positive effects on the firm’s success. Basically many talented people working for big companies are looking for a new job opportunity which promises less red tape. For the reason that these characteristics cannot be found in big corporations, it can be seen as a big advantage of smaller companies.
- Individual handling of the employees’ desires: the working environment and the requirements of workers change a lot over time. While in the past criteria like a secure workplace with a fixed salary were considered to be very attractive, today things like home-office or performance-related payments count. Being flexible in order to fulfil the workers’ wishes is only possible for smaller companies compared to big corporations, because most of the time big companies have to stick to strict rules and structured processes.
Through the former presented arguments readers shall see that small companies often can advertise with many benefits against big corporations. They just have to recognize them. If they are able to identify their own culture, the „Employer Brand“ will establish itself on its own, while the role of the firm is to communicate it to the outside. Therefore integrating Employer Branding into future programs, in particular if you are a SME, is totally worth it and makes your company fit for the future!
As part of our regular column “employee motivation as part of Employer Branding” we would like to focus on two different aspects which have been stated in the study “work motivation 2015” of the Manpower Group Germany as third and fourth most important motivation factors for employees – to be on a friendly footing with colleagues as well as free beverages offered by the employer.
The sample named a friendly footing with colleagues as third most important factor. 42 percent stated that it is important to have good contact to colleagues also off-the-workplace for example by doing something together after work. In 2014 this percentage was higher – there 45 percent had this opinion.
Fusion of leisure time and work
Other important facts to consider at the employment market are the changed standard and value propositions of the generation Y and Z. Nowadays leisure time and working hours blend more and more while some years ago this two parts have been strictly separated. Because of that a good working environment and atmosphere are really important for employees.
A big factor that influences the wellness atmosphere is the relationship to colleagues on a friendship basis. There is not only contact between employees during the working hours – many colleagues also meet each other after work to spend some time together what strengthens the team spirit. Amicable relationships cause long lasting motivation and are important for the Employer Branding.
Free beverages as factor of motivation
As forth most important factor the sample of the survey “work motivation 2015” mentioned free beverages. A very simple gesture with big impact: every third employee (33 percent) and counting is motivated by free drinks which are offered directly at the workplace. Last year only 32 percent named this point as motivating factor.
Young companies and start-ups offer free-drinks as a matter of course, but not all employers care that much for their staffing. Especially in summer cold drinks are important.
At high temperatures of 30 degrees or more the employer is legally responsible to make organizational and technical arrangements to keep the workrooms as cool as possible, but free drinks are not obligatory. However, the motivation study conducted by the Manpower Group Germany shows that many employees are additionally highly motivated by free drinks.
Employer Branding as a result of happy employees
Amicable relationships between colleagues as well as free beverages increase the motivation and commitment and as a result cause long lasting loyalty of important and favourable employees. In addition to that satisfied employees are brand ambassadors of the own company. They talk about positive experiences with the enterprise and by doing that, create unknowingly an attractive company image.
Here you find more on employer branding in general. The next part of our column “employee motivation as part of Employer Branding” deals with the aspects “team work” and “attractive interior design” – visit our blog and take part in the discussion!