New breed ditches long hours in dark towers

Attracting and retaining talent will be the biggest issue facing enterprise IT shops in 2006. And when it comes to dealing with IT workers from Generation X and Y the old rules of recruiting do not apply.

The notion of IT workers spending long hours in dark towers has shifted markedly in the last decade.

The new brood of IT workers demand flexible working arrangements forcing enterprises and recruitment consultants to make such conditions a priority.

IT recruitment firm Hays has released a report advising organizations on how to manage, motivate and retain this generation of workers so they can effectively compete in a highly competitive job market.

Peter Noblet, the company's national IT recruitment manager, said organizations need to change their recruitment processes, especially if they want to appeal to Generation Y workers who expect flexible working arrangements.

Unfortunately, this is a luxury not usually associated with IT.

"The current recruitment climate smacks of the dotcom war where companies recruited talent simply off the back of the company's image," he said. Not surprisingly, brand and image is everything.

More than 70 percent of Generation Y workers surveyed by Hays rated ethics, corporate responsibility and mission statements as important. It's not about money, but the kind of work they do.

Principal consultant at human resources firm Mercer, Phil Minns, agreed flexibility is critical.

"Workers from these generations think if they are not offered flexible hours then their employer is not utilizing technology efficiently," he said.

For Generation Y, Minns said remote access has been available for more than seven years and they expect technology to be made available to them.

"The challenge for organizations (to cater for generation X and Y) is that they have to have a way of evaluating performance that is not based on process and activity but on outcomes, and traditionally organizations do not do that well," Minns said.

"Hours and attendance are often proxies for good or bad performance and this model challenges that. Organizations need to find a way to measure their contribution to an outcome."

Asia Pacific human resources director at Unisys, Melanie Laing believes remuneration is still important but so too is brand awareness.

"Companies have had to alter retention and recruitment practices to not only get these people through the door but retain them as well; flexibility is the key," she said.

"We are currently working on a flexible working program globally in the Asia-Pacific region (comprising 14 countries) as people do not need to be in the office five days a week to produce outcomes."

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