What Does Generation Y Want In A Job?
A visit to Google enlightens and confirms some shared beliefs in hiring and working with Generation Y
Issue: Oct 2010
A visit to the Google office in Singapore allows staff from CapitaLand to be inspired by a work culture that caters to the young and promotes innovation
Innovative, enlightening and stimulating are the adjectives used to describe the work culture at Google – the popular Internet search engine.
In August, some 40 people from the CapitaLand family visited the Google Singapore office as part of the real estate company’s ICE (Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship) programme to learn about Google’s innovative culture. Innovation is almost synonymous with the 12-year-old company that hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products. In fact, Google is known to be the undisputed king of 'spartan searching'. Google is fast, relevant, and the largest single catalogue of Web pages available today.
Its success is undoubtedly due to its main resource: people.
“At Google, our strategy is simple: we hire great people and encourage them to make their dreams a reality. We believe in hard work, a fun atmosphere, and the sort of creativity that only comes about when talented people from diverse backgrounds approach problems from varying perspectives,” reveals Sarah Robb, head of people operations and the eighth employee in Google Singapore.
Innovate in HR
Innovation in Google is not only confined to their products, which are used by millions of people everyday. Innovation is practised even in managing its staff.
“Part of the reason we innovate in HR is Generation Y. It is the world of the Millennials we live in. They will be the talent pool knocking at our doors for the next 13 years,” reveals Robb, who is currently responsible for human resources and staffing for JAPAC within the "general & administrative" functions, which include but are not limited to finance, legal, public policy, corporate communications and business development.
So what does Generation Y, which is typically defined as those below the age of 30, want?
“Well, there are several things that Generation Y wants: work-life balance; a career rather than a job; a brand to associate with; and a sense of mission and recognition rather than money as reward. Google is organised around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of this generation (and their predecessors), whether they are exceptional technologists or business people. Our policies, communication systems, benefits and programmes are constantly evolving to keep pace with our growing employee numbers, but they are rooted deep in our culture and principle values that encourage creativity and diversity. These programmes and systems empower employees to make contributions that help drive Google's overall success,” enlightens Robb.
To this end, Google has provided an intellectually stimulating, thought provoking and a relaxed environment for its employees; that is conducive to creative thinking and encourages innovation.
Working with Life in Balance
Part of the work-life balance at Google has come in the form of creating a working environment that helps its employees to focus and drive them to perform better.
An embodiment of Google’s creative work environment greets you as you walk into the office
A Google signage at the recreational area created by the Googlers using pasta
“We want our employees to not worry about whether their dogs have been walked or how their children can be picked up from school. We have established a culture where they can bring their dogs to work or leave at a certain time to pick their children from school. We empower our employees and trust them so that they can perform better and love what they do,” reveals Therese Lim, who manages corporate communications for Google in Southeast Asia
ICE participant, Melissa Ho, who looks into talent management and organisation development at The Ascott Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of CapitaLand), agrees and shares that similar practices are already being implemented at CapitaLand.
“Just like in Google, people are also CapitaLand’s greatest resource. So at CapitaLand, we are already offering flexibility for employees who need to work from home or part-time work arrangements for mothers,” says Ho.
Googlers can take a break anytime over a game of pool or a game on Wii at the Google Singapore office
Google also has a café where employees can eat all they want from a vast choice of food and beverage all provided free of charge, a personal concierge desk where you can get your movie or entertainment arrangements made and a wellness programme where you can get your vaccinations done or your gym memberships subsidised. And it is not uncommon to see Googlers brainstorming over a game of ping-pong right in the middle of the workday and in the middle of the office!
Googlers’ Snack bar
All these are targeted at relieving its employees of their stress points so that they can focus on their work at hand – happily.
Career please, not just a Job
Robb reveals that Generation Y is, surprisingly, looking at how they can develop professionally in a job, not just the job itself.
This is something that 24-year-old Roy Liang, a management executive of CapitaLand, agrees strongly.
“It’s spot on and it’s also something that I am already experiencing at CapitaLand. CapitaLand has given me a lot of opportunities to grow in my career through its Graduate Development Programme. I was assigned a mentor before I graduated and had many networking sessions with this mentor. After I graduated and started work at CapitaLand, I was assigned to another mentor who has been progressively teaching me the ropes. I feel a lot of care and concern to do well in my profession,” says Liang.
As a Gen Yer, Roy Liang appreciates the opportunities given by CapitaLand to develop him professionally
According to Google, besides career development, Generation Y is also concerned with the brand they are associated with and how they can make a difference.
“Generation Y comes with the strongest sense of mission: how am I contributing with what I am doing and how can I make a difference in the lives of others. So in that sense, the brand they are looking to be associated with and work for is built on mission – what they concretely do everyday,” shares Lim.
While the visit was interesting and enlightening to many of the CapitaLand participants, Leow Siew Beng, senior vice president of organisational development, human resource concludes that the two organisations share similarities.
“Our people philosophy is the same. At CapitaLand, people are our greatest asset. Hence “ people technology” that Google has used is a term that is familiar to us. The continuous pursuit of innovation to drive our businesses is also another area we have in common,” says Leow.
Besides drawing on the similarities, CapitaLand is also drawing on the inspiration of this global internet company to build upon their current policies and make CapitaLand an even more stimulating place for the younger generation to work in, contribute and make a difference.