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How the world’s largest food company fosters a Gen Z‑friendly environment. 

April 26, 2017

Digital Reporter

Cover art Erka Capili Inciong

As time goes by, the lines separating generational cohorts become clearer and more distinct. Now, a new tribe is emerging: the Gen Z or centennials, who were born between 1995 and 2010.

The “oldest” centennials, now aged 22, are starting to trickle into the workforce.

“They are very different from the millennials,” asserted Hannah de Lumen, corporate talent acquisition and development head of Nestlé Philippines. The representative of one of the largest food companies in the world was speaking at a forum organized by JobStreet to celebrate “HR (Human Resources) Day” at New World Makati Hotel in Makati City on March 31. “They were not brought up the same way,” she added.

She claims that centennials are the “first digital natives.” While they do have similarities with millennials, the latter spent the early nineties using the landline (and never daring to call “long distance”), acquainting themselves with floppy disks, waiting for the timeslots of their favorite TV shows and listening to the entire side A of a cassette tape before getting to the other half of the album. Centennials, on the other hand, were born into the age of the internet, and had their first taste of technology thanks to Nokia, Windows XP, YouTube and Limewire.

Among all the generations, centennials, she said, treat mobile technology as “oxygen.” Centennials upload life’s minutiae and send disappearing messages by the minute—all that while scrolling through infinite newsfeeds and various messaging apps.


Generation Z, Laptop, iMac, Tablet, Phone, Multitasker

Art Erka Capili Inciong

That has an upside: centennials are the best multitaskers. Exposure to the world via the internet has also made them more global, more appreciative of individuality, and earlier starters than their older counterparts.

But to unlock their full potential, Ms. de Lumen advised employers to prepare as early as the recruitment stage.

She shared the following tips on how to effectively entice this generation to join a company:


MAKE RECRUITMENT ‘EXPERIENTIAL’

Art Erka Capili Inciong

With centennials yearning for new discoveries, Ms. de Lumen said companies should establish a recruitment process that is different from the traditional ones—one that “they will never forget.” She cited the Nestlé Management Immersion for Leadership Excellence (MILE) program, which includes a simulation in the plants in different provinces. Conducting such a program, she said, will enable a company to give centennials a glimpse of how it is like working for them.


BUILD DIVERSITY

Art Erka Capili Inciong

“The Gen Z is [more] open to different cultures and backgrounds than any other generations. They are really very inclusive about gender rights, religions, because they live in a global world rather than a very local one,” Ms. de Lumen said.

With this, she said a company’s recruitment program should allow centennials to engage with colleagues from different schools and different fields.

ALLOW INTERACTIONS TO FOSTER RELATIONSHIPS

Art Erka Capili Inciong

The process should also provide centennials with guidance from their leaders. At the MILE program, she said, the young ones are paired with the company’s executives as to who can serve as their mentors.

“The Gen Z struggles in establishing meaningful relationships, so you have to make sure that you are able to give them a coach or someone they can go to if they have questions about the organization,” she said.


BUILD A COMMUNITY

Art Erka Capili Inciong

The whole company should participate in the recruitment program. Ms. de Lumen said everyone in the company—even the CEO—should understand the next generation of employees to make them feel like they are in one community.

“If you don’t understand them now, you won’t really be able to motivate them later on,” she said. “The sooner you bring them on board and make them part of the program, they will be able to show their potential.”


INSPIRE THEM THROUGH LEADERSHIP

Art Erka Capili Inciong

Leadership is important to centennials, as it is to other generations. Hence, Ms. de Lumen said a company should allow centennials to learn lessons from successful leaders for their future endeavors.

“Gen Z will always seek for inspiration, so you must showcase inspiring leadership,” she said.


HELP THEM GET CLOSER TO THEIR PURPOSE

Art Erka Capili Inciong

A company should not only saddle their young applicants with the duties and responsibilities of the job, but also the value that it contributes to get the company closer to its goals.

“It’s not only about your needs as a company,” she said. Employers should also be able to guide them to realizing “what they can offer to the company.”

While these are all tips specifically for recruitment, it won’t hurt to extend compassion even beyond the job offer—and not only to centennials but to the rest of the organization.