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The post Global Financial Crisis (GFC) landscape changed the business world in so many ways. Business models have had to be re-designed, credit has become harder to access and the world’s largest economy, the U.S., there is talk of a job-less recovery which is causing concern amongst many Americans. Many thought the GFC would bring an end (or at least a pause) to the talent shortage that was gripping the world during the years of protracted growth in the first ten years of this century.
Early research showed the talent shortage had slowed but not reversed as top talent choose to stay with their current employer rather than risk moving to a new employer when the economic environment was so fragile. Following the aftermath of a near global recession, economies in many regions are starting to show positive signs of grow now with China forecast to grow around 10 percent in the 2010/2011 year. The talent shortages are likely to be more evident this time around as companies are also faced with an exodus of baby boomer employees who will choose to retire over the next 5 years. This is likely in many countries except places such as Turkey where there is an abundance of young labour with more than half the population under the median age of 28 years.
It is apparent that talent management has become one of the most critical issues companies are facing in the new millennium. In a recent survey by PwC they asked 56 company representatives in Turkey about their projections on talent management in the next five years and 47 percent of the participants responded that the biggest challenge will be managing the expectations of Generation Y (people born between 1980-2000).
The Generations at work in Turkey
The generations at work in Turkey is predominantly made up of the sum of three generations: Baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. The Baby-boomer employees are not a vast majority in Turkey today because of the early-retirement incentives that were introduced proved to be very popular and the government lowered the retirement age in the 1990s ( with the expectation to cut unemployment by encouraging older people to leave the workforce and open up jobs for the younger generations).
Baby boomers in Turkey can be considered those who were born between 1946-64. While the prominent issues in the world were human rights movements between 1946 and 1964, Turkey was at a transition stage to a multi-party system. Additionally the first military intervention of the Republic was taking place, which meant an interruption of freedom of thought. This was a milestone in shaping the psychology of the Baby boomers in Turkey.
Generation X includes those born between 1965-79. During this period in Turkish history, the country was struggling with political right – left disputes. Not surprisingly, the political struggles in the 1970s paved the way to generate a more apolitical, individualist and pragmatic young population. For Generation Y, the year 1980 stands as symbolic as it was a turning point in Turkish political history. As stated earlier Generation Y represents those born between 1980-2000. In this period, when the world was busy with issues such as the Gulf Crisis, the 9/11 tragedy, and global warming, Turkey was in between shifting stages of economic growth and downturn.
Generation Y in Turkey
According to the 2009 census the population of Turkey is 72.5 million with a growth rate of 1.45 percent per annum,. It is estimated Generation Y make up 25 percent of the population in Turkey. It is also very important to note that Turkey’s young population is an important contributor to labor force growth. 24.7 million people are active in the labor force, and the country has the fourth largest labor force of the 27 countries of Europe.
According to research by the U.S. Census Bureau, International Programs Center, by the year 2025, Turkey will have the highest rate of young population among European and surrounding countries such as Cyprus, Ireland, Litvania, Russia, UK, Crotia, Norway, France, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, etc.
Currently, there are over 1.2 million university students in Turkey. Approximately 730,000 students graduate every year from Turkey's high schools, one-third of who graduate from vocational, technical, and professional high schools.
At the end of every academic year, nearly 400,000 graduates from 116 universities in Turkey join the labor market, adding to a talent pool of more than 24.7 million young, well-educated, and motivated professionals. A rapidly expanding Generation Y workforce!
Generation Y makes up 25 percent of the Turkish population and enabling them to act upon their true potential is vital for Turkey’s economic and social future. Generation Y represents not only the new generation of Turkey, but of new business, as well. Like many parts of the world, traditional marketing towards graduates is lingering in Turkey. It is time to change the message! The challenge for companies is to work harder to attract and retain this emerging pool of young talents more than ever before. The good news is that it is possible to be even more effective in reaching and engaging this Generation Y without necessarily increasing your budgets.
Attracting & Engaging Generation Y
A global research study by Employer Brand International in 2010 (see figure 1) to study the ‘Influencers of Employment Choice’ found the strongest influencers of employment choice by age includes: ‘working for a company with a strong reputation,’ ‘the opportunity to work with thought leaders,’ ‘being rewarded for good performance’, ‘working for a company with inspiring leaders,’ and for ‘an organisation that has a culture of innovation’ and ‘a friendly work environment.’ The weakest influencers of employment choice by age includes: whether or not the company ‘has a global perspective in their work,’ ‘a system for continuous improvement across the organisation’, ‘clearly defined career paths,’ ‘a clearly defined mission’ or ‘effective internal processes.’
When comparing the results between age groups, ‘working for an organisation with a friendly working environment’ is a stronger influence of employment choice for younger age groups and declines with age (nearly 3 times stronger for 18-29 years compared to 50+ years). Interestingly ‘Working for an organisation that has a global perspective in their work’ is a much stronger influencer for 18-29 years compared to other age groups. It is nearly 9 times stronger influence compared to 40-49 years and 11 times stronger than 50+ years.
Figure 1: Influencers of employment choice – By AGE
Click on image to enlarge
This research should raise concerns amongst leaders in countries such as Turkey where there is such a large pool of Generation Y workers. In many developed nations the reverse is true. Many are experiencing an ageing population and the threat of a declining workforce participation and growth rate which will impact on GDP growth and international competitiveness if structures are not put in place to confront these challenges. Many countries will likely turn their attention to recruiting the best young talent from countries such as Turkey where the attractiveness of good pay, international experience and the opportunity to develop their career will be stronger influencers and attractors for Generation Y Turks to take their skills and work outside Turkey.
Internship programs: Are they valuable for assessing Generation Y talent?
According to the United Nations Human Development Index statistics, in Turkey, the unemployment rate of the young population is two times more than the general rate of unemployment. Sad but true! So, what does this mean? From one perspective we know there are millions of internship programs in Turkey which should assist to reduce unemployment amongst young turks. From another perspective one could argue the size of the young unemployment rate is a symptom of internship programmes not producing the results they were intended to. Some may also argue these programs may be being used by companies, not with the objective of developing young talents and providing opportunities for them; but more so as an opportunity to access cheap (or free) labour. This paradox is not only limited to Turkey, it is a concern of internships or traineeships in many countries.
Still, there are relevant cases which deserve to be benchmarked. For instance, the telecommunication industry pays specific attention to develop meaningful internship programmes in Turkey. A very good example is the collaboration of Turkcell and Oracle. The two leading companies came together to generate a summer internship programme by training young interns at the R&D Software Development team.
Thanks to ( or due to!) social media, young graduates now have the chance to grade their internships at a portal: www.stajinipuanla.com. This web site is a positive attempt to democratize the internship processes as young graduates now have the opportunity to share their experience and comments on line. Remembering how important peer-to-peer communication is for Generation Y, it seems this portal will do some long term positive work!
Looking at the issue from a Generation Y’s perspective, internships are a very good way of undertaking some ‘comparison shopping’ before they commit to their employment choice. Unlike the generation before them, Generation Y, view the internship, not as simple an addition to their resume, but a valuable tool to help develop their marketable skills to enhance their future employment and salary prospects. Generation Y are also becoming much more conscious in choosing internships which will add value which will put further pressure on employers to offer engaging, interesting and rewarding internships.
Focus areas for attracting and engage Generation Y
So what can leaders do now to attract and engage Generation Y? Below is a list of 10 areas we recommend leaders to focus on:
- Use social media effectively (i.e. establish a company www.facebook.com or www.twitter.com page) – build community and communicate relevant information about internships, job offers, the type of organisation you are and the people who work for you. Promote the benefits of working for you in an authentic (and believable manner). Avoid corporate speak! Make sure you respond to queries and encourage two-way interaction between members of your network.
- Challenge your traditional channels of attraction and focus on viral channels to spread the word. Use video and podcasting to expand your reach and engage with your target audience.
- Create effective bring-your-buddy programs.
- Be more creative; review the ‘typical’ career site adverts and seek more opportunities to connect and communicate with generation Y either online or in person.
- Keep it simple: Be precise in your job adverts. Avoid mumble jumble corporate speak, Make it real! Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
- Develop a career site to support your main corporate website.
- Identify where you are typically seeking young talents. Be where they are.
- Stand out from the herd. Understand Generation Y are no more attracted to standard university career day shows than you were when you attended similar events 10-20 years ago!Do not exclude their parents in your attraction plans. Parents are key decision makers in where Generation Y chooses to work. Impress their parents! Deliver job offers in person or invite the parents to the interview!
- Be “Y-literate”. Understand the language Generation Y speaks. LOL! OK!
About the authors
Brett Minchington MBA, Chairman/CEO of the Employer Brand International is a recognised global authority, strategist, author and corporate advisor on employer branding. Brett’s expertise in Employer Branding led him to author “Your Employer Brand attract-engage-retain” in 2006 which has since been sold in over 42 countries. Brett has delivered employer branding key note addresses, executive briefings, masterclass events and chaired Summits in more than 30 cities in 20 countries and has been published in HR, Marketing and Management magazines globally including The Economist and Business Week. He is also a regular commentator on employer branding for the media. Brett consults to national and global brand on employer brand strategy. His new book Employer Brand Leadership - A Global Perspective is available from the publisher www.collectivelearningaustralia.com
Brett will be presenting at the 2010 Employer Branding & Reputation Summit in Paris on 18 November 2010.
Evrim Kuran MBA, is the Managing Partner of Dinamo Training & Consulting. She delivers trainings, seminars, keynote addresses and consultancy on Generation Y, Generation Mix at Organizations and Organizational Attractiveness. Serving as an individual and corporate development coach, Evrim is also member of the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is a "differentialist" and more than that, she is against collective mediocrity. She is a member of the ELMA publishing council and her articles are published at certain portals and periodicals.