A statement often seen on LinkedIn is as follows: “Your company is only as extraordinary as your people.” It’s no wonder why this saying is so popular because it is true. Any company is only as great as the people who embody it, ensure that strategies are developed and implemented, and bend over backward to create value for the customer and ultimately the company. Another old saying is, “Happy wife=happy life.” The same goes for your employees; keep them happy, and they will take care of your customers.
The Most Important Asset in Any Company
Companies that dare be true to themselves, trust their employees, and provide direction, freedom, and responsibility to their most important asset—namely, their employees—are more likely to succeed. However, we can all rattle behind these positive words and agree with these statements. The real question is, “How do you actually create and sustain an environment that motivates and attracts people in the wave of Industry 4.0?"
The users of technology are changing, and at Elmatica, we go all the way back to 1971. It doesn’t make us dinosaurs yet, but it indicates that we have been able to do just this—create and sustain an environment for motivating and attracting new ideas and talent. Every generation has renewed enthusiasm, creativity, and skills—some are new innovations, some are improvements of existing technologies, and others are disruptive.
Industry 4.0 is an automatic exchange of data between systems, and millennials are the first generation practically brought up with technical devices in all forms and facets of life. Consequently, they have the most experience and confidence working with technology along with familiarity with allowing machines to operate independently of active human interaction. This, combined with the technological development over the last 50 years, paves the way for Industry 4.0, AI, automation, and smart factories.
New Decade, New Approach
When I was a student and received my first job, the most important thing was to get a paycheck, offering me the freedom to do more of what I found interesting. But today’s youngsters seem to have a different approach. Money and security are still vital parameters, but according to one report , they also seek to be part of the bigger picture. Values, flexibility, freedom, time off, and working with interesting and open-minded people is essential for millennials. Essentially, it’s important for them to enjoy work, but it’s more important to feel that the job has a purpose.
So, how can we attract millennials, keep them happy, let them develop, and blossom so that one can explore the possibilities of Industry 4.0 and simultaneously deliver on your existing projects, which in many cases, are still paying the bills? You need to create a company that appeals to millennials in relation to their background, experience and how they see the world. The beauty is that this doesn’t conflict with how development has been conducted in the past, but you can’t just say you will do it—now, you actually have to deliver. Here are five tips to help.
1. Ensure Security
We all want security. If you’re lying awake at night, wondering if you will have a job tomorrow, you will never produce at your top level. Your finances should be in order, although one should also notice that the new generation is often willing to be compensated in other ways, such as stocks if they believe in your values and ideas. This is a viable option for attracting the right candidates and can be implemented for both existing and new companies by either setting up new subsidiaries or offering them a stock option program.
2. Be Univocally Clear About Your Company’s Values
What are your company’s values, and what do they actually mean? How do you measure their use, and how should they guide the decision-making process in your company? This is where many companies fail. Fancy, show-off values with no connection to reality will not help. Are you wondering if your values are present amongst all employees? Simply ask, “What are our values, and when did you last actively use them to solve a challenge?” If what you get is blurry or uncertain, you are missing the cornerstone of your foundation—your values.
3. Have a Defined Mission
To induce motivation and cooperation, people need to know exactly what the mission and purpose of the company are. This might sound banal, but a clear and motivating mission statement, explaining what your business is aiming to be best at, is not as common as one might assume. Millennials want to be part of something bigger than themselves; they want to contribute to shaping the world and know how to get there. This is why a strategy for your environmental impact is important. To attract millennials with the experience and skill set your business needs to succeed in the wave of Industry 4.0, you need to tell them where you are going.
4. Set Clear, Inspiring Goals
Essential to all companies, goals should inspire and create a sense of fulfillment and happiness once achieved. People must identify with and be inspired by your company’s goals. Very few are inspired by financial values, quotas, and efficiency goals. However, having concrete, measurable, and inspiring goals will attract people who can identify with them. Perhaps the most famous goal every stated was by John F. Kennedy: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. Because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we intend to win, and the others too.” This is a concrete, finite, measurable, and common goal that brings people together and helps them feel like a part of the bigger picture—the key to attracting millennials.
5. Understand Millennials’ Needs and Work Requirements
Millennials with skills crucial for developing equipment and processes for Industry 4.0 know that they are in great demand and that there is a shortage of supply. If you can ensure security and deliver on values, mission, and goals, then the final touch is to understand millennials’ needs and work requirements. This has previously been solved by offering financial compensation; however, millennials are not primarily motivated by the financial aspect. Flexibility, vacation, maternity leave, and interesting tasks are often more motivating. Millennials are specifically interested in gaining access to knowledgeable and experienced colleagues learning how they can digitize their current process into Industry 4.0.
Creating an environment where sharing knowledge and experience is appreciated will be beneficial to a company because all parties will learn from each other. For example, Altium ensured this with great success by hosting AltiumLive events, attracting lots of young designers to their last event in Munich where attendees could design, play, share, and develop their skills.
Merging the best of both worlds—new talent, or young superheroes, with experienced industry leaders, or knowledgeable wizards—and achieving a good work-life balance based on flexibility and knowledge will create loyalty and trust, and those are the only two currencies you should want to have.
1. “Disruptive innovation,” a term coined by Clayton Christensen.
2. “Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision—Facts, Figures, and Practical Advice From Workforce Experts,” Manpower-Group, 2016.
3. Hansen, M. T. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, Simon & Schuster, 2018.
Didrik Bech is Elmatica’s CEO.
This column was originally published in the April 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine.