How to En­gage Gen Y? Speak Their Lan­guage

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Tracey Lloyd and An­drew Pen­nels

It’s no se­cret that the younger gen­er­a­tions of to­day march to the beat of their own drum; they are blaz­ing their own trail, and are com­pletely com­fort­able do­ing so. Over the decades, each gen­er­a­tion has be­come known for hav­ing their own unique traits and con­vic­tions, and as they have ma­tured those traits and con­vic­tions have con­trib­uted to chang­ing and shap­ing the world in which we live. Never has this been truer than of Gen­er­a­tion Y ( Gen Y), whose de­fi­ance to con­form to a so­cial or cul­tural mold has im­pacted al­most ev­ery area of life, from busi­ness, to travel, to en­ter­tain­ment and leisure.


Hav­ing grown up dur­ing the explosion of the in­ter­net and re­lated tech­nolo­gies, and hav­ing never ex­pe­ri­enced life with­out what we call ‘ mod­ern tech­nol­ogy.’ they are known for be­ing so­phis­ti­cated, tech savvy, global cen­tric, and flex­i­ble. They em­brace ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy and are com­fort­able adapt­ing and chang­ing as they grow. As Pa­trick L. Phillips, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Ur­ban Land In­sti­tute, com­mented: “Gen Yers have grown up with in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, and they are ac­cus­tomed to stim­u­la­tion in the form of mu­sic, light, color and ac­tion.”

We need to look no fur­ther than the rapid ex­pan­sion of so­cial me­dia to see how this group wel­comes new things. Al­though so­cial me­dia is a rel­a­tively new trend, it is one of the fastest grow­ing in­dus­tries in the world, and one that is here to stay. To Gen Yers, so­cial me­dia is not just a new de­vel­op­ment to be ex­plored and used, or a pass­ing trend, it is a part of their lives, their iden­tity, and the way in which they func­tion. It is their pres­ence and their voice, it is their han­dle on the world, it is their source of in­for­ma­tion, and their plat­form for ex­pres­sion. It plays a role in ev­ery area of their lives. In other words, in or­der to ef­fec­tively tap into this huge group of tal­ent, we need to speak their lan­guage. With Face­book, Youtube, Twit­ter and Linkedin among the top 15 busiest web­sites in the world, this is the lan­guage of this dy­namic gen­er­a­tion.

But what does all of this mean for the busi­ness world, and for at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing in­di­vid­u­als from this group? Be­ing born be­tween 1982 and 1993 and hav­ing the largest pop­u­la­tion of any gen­er­a­tion out­side of the baby boomers, Gen Y cur­rently makes up 60 per­cent of the work­force, and by 2025 that num­ber is ex­pected to be 75 per­cent ac­cord­ing to Forbes. Due to the avail­abil­ity of in­for­ma­tion, they are also the most ed­u­cated work­force that the world has ever seen, mean­ing that they carry with them an im­mea­sur­able amount of po­ten­tial. An­other defin­ing fac­tor for this gen­er­a­tion has been the in­creased at­ten­tion to cov­er­age of world events, making them global cen­tric and aware. This has cre­ated a pre­vi­ously un­seen level of de­sire to help their fel­low man.

In his book, Fast Fu­ture, au­thor David Burstein de­scribes Gen Y’s ap­proach to so­cial change as “prag­matic ide­al­ism,” a deep de­sire to make the world a bet­ter place com­bined with an un­der­stand­ing that do­ing so re­quires build­ing new in­sti­tu­tions while work­ing in­side and out­side ex­ist­ing in­sti­tu­tions. All of th­ese fac­tors have had an un­de­ni­able in­flu­ence on the way in which Gen Yers think and view the world, and on what they re­spond to and are drawn to.


So how does all of this af­fect the way in which we ap­proach our re­cruit­ment at Mi­nor Ho­tel Group? We are proud of the fact that we are a rapidly grow­ing and very dy­namic com­pany. We work in a fast- paced en­vi­ron­ment in a very ex­cit­ing and com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try, which presents some chal­leng­ing re­cruit­ment needs, and as such we have to be al­ways look­ing for­ward, an­tic­i­pat­ing and nav­i­gat­ing changes in or­der to stay ahead. As our founder and Chair­man Wil­liam E. Hei­necke has said: “Our real value lies in our in­tel­lec­tual property… We care for our employees and de­velop them as our great­est as­set.” This re­quires a very spe­cific ap­proach and we are very de­lib­er­ate about the in­di­vid­u­als and groups that we tar­get.

Like all other busi­nesses we have iden­ti­fied Gen Y as our big­gest tar­get group, and have tai­lored cer­tain as­pects of our strat­egy to reach this dy­namic de­mo­graphic. We be­lieve it is all about per­spec­tive and un­der­stand­ing your au­di­ence – to at­tract a cer­tain group you must speak in the lan­guage that they speak. We have a story to tell, and we want to tell it in a way that speaks to the in­ter­ests and val­ues of our lis­ten­ers.

We be­lieve in sto­ry­telling – this is re­flected in our aim to cre­ate sto­ries for each of our guests – and we rely on sto­ry­telling to re­flect the cul­ture of our Group as we are not as well known as some of the big­ger ho­tel chains. So in or­der to tell our story we have in­creased our foot­print on Face­book and Linkedin, and use th­ese plat­forms to show off our com­pany cul­ture and por­tray what it is like to work with us. We have amaz­ing team mem­bers all over the world who work in beau­ti­ful prop­er­ties in ex­otic and ex­cit­ing lo­ca­tions and we let them tell their own sto­ries. Th­ese are the sto­ries that in­spire us, and th­ese are the sto­ries that tes­tify to our global cul­ture to a gen­er­a­tion who is glob­ally- minded.


Some­thing that is core to our MHG cul­ture and has be­come a big part of our oper­a­tions is to give back and en­hance the com­mu­ni­ties where we are present. Ev­ery year to cel­e­brate Mr. Hei­necke’s birth­day and as a re­minder of where our val­ues lie, we put aside all busi­ness ob­jec­tives for one day, and the en­tire com­pany around the globe gets in­volved in ac­tiv­i­ties to

ben­e­fit and give back to our com­mu­ni­ties. We aim to be net in­vestors in the peo­ple and en­vi­ron­ments where our prop­er­ties are lo­cated. This was so won­der­fully il­lus­trated this year when our team at Anan­tara Si Kao Re­sort & Spa com­mit­ted to join forces with the Na­tional Park re­search team to help re­store the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of the en­dan­gered dugong pop­u­la­tion na­tive to the Trang area. Not only did the team com­mit to this long- term project, but they opened it up to guests who wanted to help out by plant­ing sea­grass, the nat­u­ral food for th­ese beau­ti­ful an­i­mals. Th­ese are the sto­ries that we are proud to tell and we use so­cial me­dia plat­forms to talk about our CSR work in a way that speaks to the val­ues of Gen Y who de­sire to work within in­sti­tu­tions to make the world a bet­ter place.

An­other way in which we give back to the com­mu­nity and build the tal­ent pool in the Mal­dives and Thai­land is through our Ex­plorer pro­gram. Un­der our phi­los­o­phy that “brands don’t build peo­ple, peo­ple build brands,” this is a pro­gram aimed at en­hanc­ing the skills and de­vel­op­ment of high school grad­u­ates by giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to work and learn at the same time. As we said ear­lier, Gen Y is the most ed­u­cated work­force the world has ever seen, and ed­u­ca­tion is a value they hold dear. Nel­son Man­dela fa­mously said: “Ed­u­ca­tion is the most pow­er­ful weapon which you can use to change the world.” With this in mind our Ex­plorer pro­gram of­fers stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to change their lives as they learn and earn by work­ing full time and gain­ing a vo­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion as they do. Ex­plorer is a one- year pro­gram which is ac­cred­ited with an in­ter­na­tional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from Aus­tralia that is aligned with the vo­ca­tional stan­dards of both coun­tries.


A few years ago we launched an ex­cit­ing graduate de­vel­op­ment pro­gram aimed at tap­ping into and de­vel­op­ing the wealth of knowl­edge and po­ten­tial that Gen Y pos­sesses. Their level of ed­u­ca­tion pro­vides an ex­tremely solid base and goes a long way in ac­cel­er­at­ing their abil­ity to learn, but it is the 18 months of ex­ten­sive hands- on ex­pe­ri­ence that our As­cent pro­gram of­fers that has shown it be a pow­er­ful ini­tia­tive. We rec­og­nized that Gen Y need to be en­gaged early in the re­cruit­ment process, and so as part of the ap­pli­ca­tion process for this pro­gram we ask ap­pli­cants to make a video in­tro­duc­tion of them­selves, and share it with us through Youtube. This ap­proach gives them an op­por­tu­nity to ex­press them­selves on a plat­form that they can really iden­tify with and that has be­come syn­ony­mous with Gen Y. The par­tic­i­pants con­tinue to use this me­dia through­out their jour­ney as a way of doc­u­ment­ing and shar­ing their sto­ries. The feed­back that we re­ceived from the suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants was very en­cour­ag­ing with the fol­low­ing com­ments sum­ming up their ex­pe­ri­ence:

“I thought that it was an in­ter­est­ing process … I thought of it as chal­leng­ing.”

“It was fun to be making the video … My per­cep­tion is that MHG is a very fast grow­ing com­pany, also the brands seem fun and has an in­dige­nous look.”

“It made me think that MHG stood out be­cause no other com­pa­nies I knew were ask­ing for a video ap­pli­ca­tion. It really is about pi­o­neer­ing and be­ing dif­fer­ent, which is a strong point for can­di­dates con­sid­er­ing the com­pany.”

A sign that some­thing is alive, whether plant, an­i­mal, or an or­ga­ni­za­tion is that it is al­ways grow­ing and chang­ing. This is a truth that we at MHG hold to be very valu­able. Even though change is not al­ways com­fort­able, it is usu­ally ex­cit­ing. We know that Gen Y is not only our fu­ture, but also our present. They are the fresh- eyed team mem­bers who are here to make a dif­fer­ence and to drive our suc­cess now and in the fu­ture. To en­gage them we need to speak their lan­guage, and to de­velop them they must be en­gaged. This is a process that has al­ready started for us at MHG be­cause we know that to be the best we have to have the best peo­ple. We are ex­cited to see how we grow and de­velop as a com­pany, and what role our Gen Yers will play in build­ing that. The sky is the limit.

Tracey Lloyd is Group Di­rec­tor of Tal­ent and An­drew Pen­nels is Re­cruit­ment Man­ager at Mi­nor Ho­tel Group. They can be con­tacted: at tl­loyd@ mi­nor. com and apen­nels@ mi­nor. com.

Mi­nor As­cent Class of 2014

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