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Connecting to Generation C

As a new generation emerges that is connected socially and technologically like never before, organizations must adapt their talent-management strategies in order to engage with these workers on their terms and leverage their next-generation skills and know-how.

Monday, August 13, 2012
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As each new generation enters the workforce, organizations have learned to adapt their recruiting, hiring and development strategies to account for the newest additions to the candidate pool. Just when companies think they have mastered talent-management techniques for the latest generation, a new classification of worker, such as the latest known as Generation C, emerges.

Unlike previous generations, such as Generation X and Y, this new generation encompasses more than just a new batch of college graduates. It is also a psychographic group comprised of people of different ages who are more connected, both socially and technologically, than ever before.

Although there may be some talent-management challenges for this new group, hiring them is integral to the success of any organization. To prepare for the impending mass retirement of baby boomers, Generation C will have to be brought on to fill the ensuing talent gaps and eventually take over key management positions.

While hiring Generation C will be a necessity in the future, companies that can engage and recruit this group in the present will benefit from the strengths they offer. When brought on board, a member of Generation C isn't just contributing their own individual skills and experience. They also bring along the value of their networks, to which they are constantly connected, resulting in real-time productivity through collaboration. In this way, mobility is just an enabler and collaboration is the key. Business will increasingly realize benefits from fact-based decisions achieved through digitalized technology and enabled by mobility to achieve productivity through real time collaboration. In the end, it's all about collaboration!

The organizations that figure out how to leverage this emerging populace, by interacting through the same channels they use in their highly digitalized worlds, will benefit exponentially from their technological know-how and connectedness in order to achieve business goals.

Who is Generation C?

Following in the digital footprints of the millennials, Generation C -- with the C standing for "connected" -- is a term coined by Nielsen, a global leader in measurement and information, to describe young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who lead a mainly digital lifestyle. Although making up just 23 percent of the U.S. population, this group leads all other groups in their use of online videos, networking, blog sites and in owning tablets and smartphones. The term was originally used by marketing companies, who had to change their strategies to leverage the buying power and group decision-making of the new generation. However, as the influence of Generation C grows in the workforce, employers must pay attention as well.

As the world becomes increasingly global and mobile, employers can benefit from workers who are in tune with the latest technology and are adept at communicating through the latest devices and collaborating with people all over the world. The connectedness of this generation can empower and align the workforce to levels never achieved before, creating real-time collaboration through digitalized technology and enhanced mobility. In order to leverage the power of Generation C, though, employers must learn how to connect with them in their totally plugged-in lifestyles.

Next-Generation Recruitment

To benefit from the many strengths Generation C workers possess, organizations have to recalibrate their recruiting strategies in order to meet them where they are and engage with them through their preferred channels. While increasing their presence at job fairs and on-campus recruiting can help, to fully tap into this valuable source of talent, the organization has to expand its presence online. Indeed, to leverage the strengths of the new generation, who will rely on their connectedness for almost every aspect of their work, it only makes sense to start the engagement process on their level.

According to the Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey 2011, 82 percent of jobseekers used social media as part of their job search in 2011, with 14.4 million people finding their last jobs through social networks. LinkedIn has emerged as the top site employers use to find talent, capitalizing on the connectedness of the new generation by allowing users to easily share job postings and recommend their friends and colleagues. Additionally, organizations can create dedicated recruiter profiles on LinkedIn to more easily disperse their open positions across the social network.

Twitter is becoming an increasingly useful tool for recruiting as well. Like with LinkedIn, companies can create specific recruiter profiles to post open positions, accessing a wide candidate pool instantaneously. To further leverage the immediate sharing of job postings, companies can enhance their own corporate recruitment sites by adding "share" buttons, providing jobseekers with another avenue for passing jobs along to their networks.

Breaking Down the Generation C Stereotype

Although employers have much to gain from hiring Generation C workers, there are several stigmas surrounding the group that might make them seem undesirable. For instance, younger workers are often seen as lacking loyalty and having poor work ethics, due to their job-hopping tendencies. But with older workers rapidly retiring from the workforce, organizations will have to depend on Generation C to fill the resulting gaps.

Despite the concerns about the new generation, a study by the Corporate Executive Board shows that younger workers are very similar to older employees in terms of emotional intelligence, communication skills, problem solving and overall performance. The study illustrates that Generation C is actually more motivated than previous generations to achieve well defined goals. This is due in part to growing up with video games in which goals are completed in order to move onto the next round, and the emergence of social media and blogging, in which the goal is to get more connections, followers and interactions. In both gaming and social networking, the individual competes and interacts with users all over the world.

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Leveraging that mentality, organizations can cultivate greater performance by giving attainable and defined goals that the workers will be eager to achieve.

Developing Talent-Management Strategies for Generation C

Although Generation C employees can be seen as entitled, compensation isn't their main motivator. A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that a mere 15 percent of younger workers cite having a high-paying career as the most important thing in their lives. More personal and social aspects, such as being a good parent, having a successful marriage and helping others in need were rated as significantly more important.

Moreover, the CEB study shows that a majority of younger workers will stay in a position if they see opportunities for career advancement, valuing job satisfaction over salary as their main motivation for staying in a job. Still, if they do not receive training geared towards their key touch points, it will be harder to minimize attrition and keep them in their positions.

As the members of Generation C are experts at digesting large amounts of information quickly, they are likely to resist processes and tools that are not optimized for this proficiency. For instance, they are adept at drawing connections with any given audience much more easily than others, a key strength in today's interconnected environment. Additionally, as they give more credence to social content than formal content, their decision making is heavily influenced by their social networks. As studies have shown that Generation C can become physically uncomfortable when not connected, it is important to allow them use their networks and eagerness to collaborate with others to advance their own and the company's business goals.

How to Retain Generation C

While it may be easy to embrace social media as a way to attract Generation C to open positions, another challenge lies in keeping them engaged and avoiding high turnover rates. Offering flexible working situations, such as allowing employees to work from home, can allow the mobile employee to have more control over when and where they work.

Another strategy is to develop a work culture that engages employees through a fun environment that causes them to view their positions as more than just a job. Additionally, providing continuous development plans and clear career-path options can allow them see their place in the organization and help to prevent the job-hopping for which Generation C workers are well known.

With more baby boomers retiring and the economy showing signs of recovery, increasing the hiring of Generation C should be a major focus of any company's talent-acquisition plans. As they are in tune with the latest technologies and social networks, they are becoming an increasingly valuable source of talent. In order to fully leverage this new generation of worker, companies must embrace those same technologies and social networks these workers use to stand out from the competition and better engage them.

Organizations that understand how to empower and engage Generation C through their networks will realize gains in true, next-generation performance levels.

Isobel Harris is chief customer officer at Peoplefluent.

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