Saturday, July 4, 2009

Engaging and retaining Netgens


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, July 4, 2009




By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

How do we engage and retain the Millenials or Netgens


Every year in May or June, some 8,000 to 12,000 learning and performance professionals and leaders from all over the world meet at the ASTD Conference & Exposition in different major cities in the USA. Every time there are always new things to learn and discuss, better ways to do things, bigger results to achieve, new challenges and issues to address.


 This year, one main concern was the entry of the millenials or netgens or those born from 1977 to 1997 in the workplace. They provide different challenges for organizational leaders because they have different value system, needs, aspirations and work styles. They are round pegs we can't simply try to fit into the square holes (read policies, procedures, leadership styles, work ethics, systems, processes, lifestyle that we the baby boomers and generation x are used to. They are different from you and me. I know firsthand because I have two netgen sons. Notice that there are more and more 32 year olds and younger in your own workplace.


 Tony Bingham, ASTD president, quoted Rob Cross and Robert Thomas who said, "Organizations are increasingly dealing with newcomers. In the US, more than 25 percent of all workers have been with their company less than a year, and more than 33 percent, less than two years. American workers, on the average, change jobs ten times between ages 18 and 37. As a result, speeding up the network development (social connections) of new hires through more effective on-boarding has become a critical means of driving performance.


 "The first and most obvious challenge with newcomers is to jump-start their productivity. New hires are often a net drain on an organization—drawing salary, incurring training and orientation expenses, and consuming cowor­kers' time without providing much in return.


 "A study by Mellon Financial Corporation found that productivity lost due to the learning curve for new-hires-and-transfers is between 1 and 2.5 percent of total revenues. On average, the time for new hires to achieve an acceptable level of productivity ranges from eight weeks for clerical jobs to 20 weeks for professionals to more than 26 weeks for executives.


 "In today's fast-paced, competitive economy, organizations obviously cannot afford this kind of productivity lag."


 Tony Bingham continued, "And it doesn't do an organization much good if we have great systems for on-boarding, yet we fall down on retention."


 So how can we leverage social media for on-boarding and retention of this tremendous force—the netgens? Informal learning through social networks.


 Tony mentioned that in the April 2009 issue of CLO Magazine, Jay Cross talks about connections, He says, "Connections are everything. If your learning plans don't embrace the power of networks, go back to the drawing board. Learning occurs through conversations, collaboration, knowledge transfer, and other network phenomena. Learning leaders will seek out ways to increase personal network connections." One example Jay used was the creation of "easily accessible water coolers, both virtual and real."


 From these discussions, we have a greater understanding of the impact of this new generation—millenials or netgens—in the workplace and also in the greater society. Let's have a final discussion next column.


Find Moje in Twitter and Facebook using her email addy, innova­ She has a compilation of her columns at


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