Home » Harnessing the potential of next generation employees: could there be a formula?

Harnessing the potential of next generation employees: could there be a formula?

by Tia

The past five years have seen the evolving landscape of workforce and talent management increase in complexity. With next generation employees bringing unique – and very clear – expectations and values to the workplace, business needs to adapt and respond rapidly or runs the risk of losing the potential and vitality of this young talent. Understanding the connection between “happy passionate people” and “happy passionate employees”, and the resulting impact of these on customer experience and loyalty remains critical for organisations as they engage young team members. Anelani Ndou, Fundi Executive: HR, explains.

Perhaps the greatest and simplest reality check of Covid for organisational leadership around the world was understanding that in order for their businesses to thrive, individuals working for their businesses needed to thrive. In a company like Fundi, where the majority of our team members are next generation employees working in customer service, with this being their first professional job, the past five years have seen us navigate a steep learning curve to not only support them but to connect with them meaningfully. This has involved radically rethinking our strategy and approach to drive both their mindful presence and active engagement in the business and our purpose.

Because Fundi is arguably a purpose-driven company, one would like to believe that there would already be a deep sense of connection with our brand from the outset. One of our core findings as we started this process of active engagement and discovery towards “happy passionate people” was that this couldn’t be assumed: just because I resonate with a brand’s purpose doesn’t necessarily mean that I understand how my work contributes specifically to this. Unless I do, there is no automatic “fulfilment” as a result. This has meant focusing our attention and efforts on creating connection and a sense of belonging – across a hybrid workspace, with direct inputs from staff on how to enable this.

The current and growing intersection between people and technology has also influenced this. For younger employees, flexibility relates to both their perception of freedom (and being able “to choose”) and trust. It is a means of direct empowerment. They want to be involved in making decisions both for themselves and for the business. Delivering on these wishes and fast-evolving expectations requires active engagement – which is why we have invested so heavily in our internal communication channels. Working with our marketing and branding team to develop newsletters, online groups across different channels and a series of direct engagements (we’ve called our “Hope Series”) has proven invaluable. It’s helped us to keep team members informed and, most importantly for next generation team members, it’s ensured they are included. We want these new young voices to be heard and valued – this is how a space of initiative and innovation can be created. It is also how one seeds positive change, allowing staff to take ownership of both their roles and their careers.

Professional development is another critical aspect of our strategy. For a “Happy Passionate Person” (HPP) to become a “Happy Passionate Employee” (HPE) who can unlock loyal customers (LC), they have to be empowered to add value in their roles. They also have to see a space of growth and a compelling future path for themselves in the business. By offering continuous learning opportunities and mentorship programmes, as well as having conversations about career progression, we’re encouraging next generation employees in particular to “own” their journeys. This focus on development not only builds individual capabilities but is also strengthening Fundi’s overall talent pool.

With Fundi recently reaching the end of our financial year and being in the process of reviewing our performance against targets, initial analysis shows that the formula is working. The team has not only reached but exceeded sales targets in what was arguably a very challenging year. Our Happy Passionate Employees have managed to not only retain Loyal Customers but also grow our Loyal Customer base, contributing directly to the bottom line: one of our key success measures of this strategy.

We recognise that this is just the beginning though. For our HPP = HPE = LC formula to deliver at a tangible level across all of our stakeholder groups, we will need to continue to evolve and adapt. Our commitment to these principles remains non-negotiable, however – ensuring that Fundi remains a meaningful and dynamic place to work, grow and contribute.

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