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November 7, 2012 / Mervyn Dinnen

CIPD12 – Unlocking the Potential of Our Future Workforce

Day one at the CIPD Conference and I attended a really strong presentation from David Fairhurst of McDonalds. It seems that understanding the future workforce and unlocking their potential will be a key theme over the course of the three days with several sessions linked to it.

It’s something that I’ve been particularly interested over the past year, and I’ve written about education, youth unemployment and the problems that we may be storing up by under-utilising skills and cutting back on training.

Today’s session was engagingly delivered and rich in soundbites and tweetable phrases. The use of video clips of Gen Y and millennial workers talking about their experiences, hopes and fears provided powerful evidence. This had been put together by engaging them through the @OurYoungPeople twitter account – an attempt to find out what young people are saying and why HR needs to listen to them.

Here are 5 key points that lend themselves to further thought and discussion…I’m looking forward to adding to this list over the next 2 days…

  • This is the ‘Google Generation’ – they are used to getting instant answers at their fingertips. They are confident and know how to find things out.
  • They’ve been raised in an age of scams and fakes and are more adept than older generations at spotting them and avoiding. Loyalty therefore has to be earned – they won’t buy it just because you say it. They need to experience it.
  • Too often entry level roles fail to stimulate or engage them, and give them a poor experience of the workplace. They need variety, challenge, teamwork and customer interaction – try to give it to them; it will bring out their best.
  • Young people remember how you treat them for their whole lives, as customers, consumers and employees. In particular many spoke at their frustrations at not getting any replies or acknowledgements to job applications…seeing it as rude and damaging to confidence and aspiration.
  • They thrive on collaboration and co-creation and gain most benefit from learning that is collaborative, visual and uses information to solve problems. Yet we often ignore these and offer learning through memorising.

I always leave these sessions energised by the potential of the future workforce…I only hope that their enthusuasm and appetite for contributing isn’t strangled bya a failure to understand what motivates and them.

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