When we organized an internal workshop to discuss Generations X, Y, Z in the Workplace, we did not expect to ignite a revolution. The whole event went completely wrong… or did it?

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The aim was to look at different needs of each generation and potentially adapt our program design to be more aligned for each generational group – for our EMBA clients (Gen X), MBAs (Gen Y) and Undergraduate programs (early Gen Z). And to be able to work more harmoniously at ISP – already a 3-generation workplace. In one of the exercises we asked our team what they think about each other’s generation. Boom! Suddenly things got heated… below is what each Generation told us about themselves and their peers.

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In a typically millennial moment, our teammate Cris, who has been with ISP for several years, nailed it totally. “You may think whatever you want about us but we are the majority here”. Sounds arrogant, right? Well, when you think about the message, we had to agree with Cris. We realized we needed to adapt ISP first if we want to be more relevant to our students and more engaging for our employees.

In the two years since this workshop, we’ve worked hard to make ISP more adaptable to the changing needs of our employees and clients.

Freedom & flexibility is a must

We started with the easy stuff – extended flexi hours and unlimited home office was easy to agree on. We’d had limited home office policy as an experiment and, with no drop in work quality and with the impossible task of accurately tracking it, we took a leap of faith and implemented an unlimited home office policy, to support our view that the most important thing is that work is done to time, quality & budget and that everyone has the ability to balance home life and office life. The next in line was the ability to work from abroad. Why not? Tick. One year later we have people working for ISP in South Africa, USA, Australia & the UK, keeping us in the loop with local trends and new clients, industries and cultural events to explore.

Our Hub has a huge impact on our communication at ISP

Our new offices definitely have made it much easier to share information across the company. I will talk about the whole moving project in one of the future blog posts however the key thing to mention here is our HUB – our coffee place, conference room for 50 people, cinema, lunch area, yoga studio, all at once. We have organised more than 20 events for our people or our clients over the last 6 months alone. My favourite times when we get together are our regular Ask Me Anything meetings where anybody can ask the management team any questions. Breakfast briefings introducing new destinations, new marketing activities or new internal projects are also very popular – although perhaps the breakfast is sometimes more popular than the briefing (this has not changed across the generations!). Open and transparent communication becomes increasingly important with the shift in demographics.

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Money, money, money. Is it only that?

This is a never-ending story. We simplified the bonus structure twice in the past two years and we are still not happy with it. In this respect, we really see the conflict between generational priorities – the older, more cautious people prefer a ‘guaranteed’ income while the younger groups want bonuses based on their individual performance – structuring a system which is fair and transparent is an ongoing challenge.

What else matters for people? Here is the list of popular benefits people regularly mention in our engagement survey… Free fresh fruit in the office every day. Multisport card. Benefity.cz. Massages in the office. Friendly colleagues. Possibility to travel. New fathers get one more week off as paternity leave.

I want to learn new things.

This is the most frequent response we keep hearing across all generations at ISP. But there is one big BUT. Do they really mean it? I think yes, they mean it, however very few people know how to go about it. The usual case was something like this… “You suck in your presentation skills, here is a training.” Effect on me… close to zero, my presentation skills still sucked.

We decided to change our approach completely. Why we should focus on training people in something they can’t do. Let’s maximize our potential in what we are really good at. And let’s build on it. Perhaps by allowing me to go through a customized leadership course or through becoming certified personal coach I will also master my presentation skills as a side product. What changed? We started with revising our performance review system from one year evaluation to quarterly based review focusing heavily on personal development. I ask my people pretty much only two questions… What are some of the things you do well? What are some of the things you want to improve? And to help us track the impact, we installed  BambooHR to support it.

Our next project for 2017 is to build our own Leadership Academy. We are just starting to work on it, so keep your fingers crossed. Perhaps an interesting topic for one of our future blog posts?

 

 

 

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