Meet the class of 2014


Globalisation, an increasingly diverse workforce, and technology have contributed to a more colourful and ever-evolving work culture in Asia. Find out what else defines the workplace of today.

They are young, dynamic, savvy about social media, and unafraid to speak their minds. Meet the people your company will soon be employing, if they are not already working with you.

To say that workplaces have changed massively since the 1980s and 90s is somewhat of an understatement. Globalisation, an increasingly diverse workforce, and the advent of technology have had big parts to play in building a more colourful and ever-evolving work culture.

If you’re an employer, here are five key trends you need to take note of.

The rise of Millennials in the workforce

The term “Millennials” generally refers to those born in the early 1980s, and are characterised as being tech-savvy, upwardly mobile, and with having a globalised outlook. Younger workers enjoy teamwork and are constantly on the lookout for creative ways to solve problems. Hence, they may not appreciate being micro-managed or having to report every little thing they do to their bosses. Try implementing an “open-door policy” and a more consultative approach at work. This free exchange of ideas will also go a long way in building a more innovative workplace.

The popularity of flexible working arrangements

Insisting on strict working hours is the fastest way to kill creativity. Younger employees don’t like feeling like you’re merely “buying their time”. Instead, have a goal-oriented approach when you are assigning projects to them, and give them the flexibility of telecommuting. This is one way of building trust and relationships with your younger employees. Studies have also shown that employee performance is, in general, not affected by such unconventional arrangements. Flexible working arrangements, while challenging to implement at its initial stages, may have the long-term benefit of driving creativity and innovation.

The rise of CSR

Above and beyond being involved in a company’s P&L, the younger generation of workers want to feel that their talent is also used for the greater public good. A study done by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that this group of people placed a higher priority on helping those in need over a high-paying career. Acknowledging this, many companies have implemented formal corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. An effective CSR programme doesn’t just motivate employees and benefit the community at large; it also matches the desire of consumers to associate themselves with companies that are known to be environmentally conscious and altruistic. In the long run, a well-planned CSR strategy can be great for a company’s profile and branding.

The emergence of BYOD culture

In a nutshell, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) means allowing employees to bring their own laptops, tablets and other tech devices to the office and working on them via the company’s network. This has plenty of benefits, including potential savings for the company as it would not need to purchase the necessary equipment. Productivity may also be boosted when employees are allowed to work on a device they are familiar with and enjoy using. However, if your company is considering implementing such a scheme, it might be wise to first do long-term cost-benefit analysis: Security issues and the possibility of large claims made by employees are just some of the issues that need to be explored.

More women gunning for leadership positions

Globally, more women are putting off starting families to build their careers and it’s no different in Asia. A study done by Forbes in 2013 showed that, in the Asia Pacific region, 29% of senior leadership positions were held by women, compared to 25% in the European Union, 24% in Latin America and 21% in North America. To better attract and retain female talent, businesses will need to explore the implementation of flexible work programmes, as well as ensure that their workplace culture actively promotes and encourages women to take on leadership roles.

While the younger generation of employees are often depicted as self-entitled, it can be argued that the criticism that’s been lobbed at them so far is unnecessarily harsh. The key lies in understanding where their motivations lie; once you’ve found out what that is, you’ll discover a wealth of talent just waiting to be tapped.

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