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Engaging Centennials in today’s workplace


Continuing our partnership with the American University in Dubai (AUD), PeopleFirst once again designed and evaluated a term project for the students enrolled in two separate sections of the Human Resource Management course with Professor Raj Kapoor. Students in each section were split into six teams and asked to collect, review and analyse information regarding the expectations that Centennials have from employers in today’s environment; the students were then required to present their findings and make recommendations that would assist employers and HR professionals to attract and retain this generation in the workplace.

Students had to apply their academic knowledge and analyse their findings to develop and present practical solutions on six respective HR topics: Career Development, Job Design, Onboarding, Performance Management, Compensation / Benefits and Recruitment / Selection.

The presentation skills displayed and the recommendations made from all participants were of an impressive standard and exceptionally well-articulated. The students conducted thorough research and proposed a robust set of recommendations that should be given due consideration and can potentially be incorporated in the employee value proposition offered by companies to effectively engage the Centennial workforce.

Based on the reports submitted and the presentations delivered there were two winning teams (one from each section):

Section A: Topic: Career Development

Team members: Dimple Tahiliani, Silmi Dhrolia, Yash Kapoor, Trisha Jiandani & Karan Dhakka

The key research findings and recommendations presented by the winning team are summarized below:

  • Centennials have ideas and a set of skills that need to be developed which can then be used for the right job at the right time
  • Companies need to continuously make efforts to enhance and develop the skills of their employees
  • Some suggested that companies can use the following methods to develop skills and broaden and deepen working/business knowledge:
    • participation in group workshops
    • individual development sessions
    • cognitive training
    • team building that focuses on developing new skills
    • job shadowing
    • lateral moves within departments or across organisations to develop a breadth of knowledge
  • Companies should also encourage their employees on self-development to encourage growth, resilience, confidence and accountability
  • Companies should provide continuous feedback to employees to enable them to understand their areas of development
  • Career development discussions should be conducted on regular intervals
  • 56% of the surveyed participants felt that external training programs are effective as they expose the company and the employees to new skills, trends and encourage participation
  • However, 44% of the surveyed participants felt that internal trainings were more effective as they are cost-effective, and the content is more relevant to the job
  • Overall, 84% of the surveyed participants believed that career development helps improve employee performance

Section B: Topic: Job Design

Team members: Daniel Haddad, Basil Romie, Filippo Borghi, Francesca Pasqualucci & Mohannad Alzahrawi

The recommendations presented by the winning team are summarized below:

  • Companies should design jobs that provide a variety of tasks to keep them engaged rather than engaging in repetitive tasks and activities; however, employers need to be cautious that many tasks are not allocated at the same time
  • Employees want job titles that befit their roles which helps in eliminating ambiguity concerning their responsibilities
  • Centennials prefer an independent workspace and would prefer not to share their workspace with other team members. They also aspire to be in roles that give them the ability to plan, execute and control their tasks independently
  • It is recommended that employers trust Centennials to take responsibility for their work and enable them to make decisions in the workplace as employees are more likely to add value if they are given independence and given enough ‘space’ to thrive
  • Mentors / coaches should be assigned to new employees to ensure successful on-boarding
  • Rigid or fixed working times do not appeal to Centennials therefore companies should include flexibility in their job design and working practices
  • Teams should be diverse with a balance of experienced and new employees to develop communication skills and build successful relationships
  • Clear and transparent career progression opportunities should be made available to Centennials so that they can plan and map out their own career paths

We would like to thank AUD and Professor Kapoor for inviting us once again to participate in this initiative and congratulate the winning teams for the high quality of work that was delivered; we would also like to thank all students for their participation in this project.