IBM has a new approach to hiring and it’s changing the DNA of the company for good

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Today's workforce is increasingly globally dispersed, multi-generational, multicultural and are called 'Millennials'.

Their culture of open sharing of information, collaboration and innovation helps transform a company's culture and aids progression. Millennials are attracted to employer brands that they admire as consumers. In 2008, 88% were looking for employers with CSR values that matched their own, and 86% would consider leaving an employer whose values no longer met their expectations. In simple words, they make their own rules and abide by them when it comes to career choices.

Millennials expect rapid progression, a varied and interesting career and constant feedback. They are fast, aggressive and can see beyond the horizon.

DP Singh, Vice President & HR Head- IBM, India/South Asia tells Business Insider about the innovative ways they are hiring the millennial workforce and how they are bringing about new changes to the company.

1. Why is IBM a great place to work for millennials?
According to the recent IBM study, more than 50 percent workforce will be a millennial workforce by 2020". Nearly 41% of India's population is below the age of 20. IBM has a great focus towards millennials who are committed to gain digital proficiency and have larger career goals that go beyond the traditional roles.

IBM Millennial Corps is a global team of more than 4,000 IBM staffers (of all ages) dedicated to improving the millennials' experience at the company. This community of millennials are constantly interacting within themselves and actively contributing to IBM projects.

"I work on a photonic harvesting project where I lead experiments towards developing innovative photonic technologies for the solar sector, which have the potential of creating significant technical and business impact in the solar industry. I also work on a project in which we monitor water pollution in rivers via processes that involve working on technology based on sensors, cloud and analytics," said Sukanya Randhawa, Research Scientist, IBM Research, who is also a millennial.



IBM also tracks the engagement scores of the millennial population to ensure that their work experience in IBM is enriching and their engagement levels are always high.

IBM is also committed to provide a world class performance-based culture that not only values intelligence and innovation but brings in flexibility and provides opportunities to its employees who have complete trust in the company and its capabilities and are excited to use these capabilities for their further growth and expansion.

2. How is it different than the rest in providing the best platform for millennials to work?
IBM has been leading the way in the space of technology and these youngsters get to work on emerging technologies from day one. Be it on Cloud, Watson, IoT, Mobile or Cognitive, it is the mecca for those who like to innovate and experiment with the next gen tech.
The IBMer is also allowed to gain multi-disciplinary experience in varied technology. It is in fact encouraged that everyone has more than one skill. They are exposed to every day learning, on the go and at their own pace, which enables them to keep abreast at all times. The millennials cannot only learn, but teach, through the reverse mentoring programs that are on at all times. For e.g. At IBM, millennials can coach leaders on going digital and social.

3. How is it building up this new workforce?
The millennial workforce is much smarter and more career oriented than it is made to be. Potential recruiters are required to be more engaged and accessible on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) as well be more responsive on own company websites as well.
Millennials are focused on skill development, career advancement, and mentoring and education opportunities to name a few. IBM has rolled out new processes and programs by working with the millennial workforce. Some of the specific initiatives to engage the millennials at IBM include:
A) Job-Shadowing and Mentoring- helps in both understanding the larger picture and also setting a road map for career growth, besides providing educational and skill building opportunities for the young IBMers.

B) Reverse mentoring allows a team of handpicked young people to be a part of a shadow board. As a part of this program, a similar situation is given to the young employees and the senior leaders to analyze how differently they would deal with it. This program enables to bring out the innovative approach taken by the youngsters to solve the problem. It also aims at bringing a better understanding between the top leaders and the young employees.

C) Gen Y looks beyond money and the commercial objectives of the company; they aspire to work with an organization that is associated with a larger purpose. To satisfy this need, IBM instituted the Corporate Service Corps (CSC) that allows the highest performing IBMers to offer their expertise in technology and management consulting to address some of the hard pressing problems of the community.

D) IBM works closely with the millennial workforce to ensure its programs and processes are relevant and effective. For example: CheckPoint, IBM's new appraisal mechanism was co-created from the feedback across the global workforce - from 170 countries! This came from the fact that they don't like a onetime yearly evaluation. They are a group of 'instantness' and respect immediate feedback.

4. How are you hiring for this new workforce?

Recruiting techniques have also undergone some changes as we seek to get an edge when hiring. We leverage our social media platforms and use creative and innovative recruiting strategies when hiring for this new workforce.

5. What are the qualities that these new workforces have?

Millennials are a very distinctive generation. The first wave of Millennials is rising up the ranks at work and shaping or making key business decisions. It's important to understand the impact they're having on today's changing workplace. They desire financial security and seniority just as much as Gen X and Baby Boomers. They also stress on the importance of inspirational leadership, a clearly articulated business strategy and performance-based recognition and promotions. Millennials want a manager who's ethical and fair and also values transparency and dependability. They are adept at interacting online, but this doesn't mean they want to do everything virtually. When it comes to acquiring new work-related knowledge and skills, for example, they prefer face-to-face contact. The fundamental distinction between Millennials and older employees is their digital proficiency.

"I am a mobile and wearable technologist, highly passionate in leveraging them for human comforts and larger social well-being. I am currently working on an exciting project where we apply mobile and wearable technologies to improve childhood education. We focus on innovating various novel engaging interactions which makes education a natural and enjoyable process rather than being enforced," said Vijay E, Software Engineer, IBM Master Inventor, IBM Research.



Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in a digital world. Using mobile and social technologies, immediately accessing data, ideas and inspiration and instantly communicating and collaborating is second nature for these digital natives.

6. How is IBM nurturing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship?

IBM encourages entrepreneurial thinking. Our constant endeavor has been to create profit owners within the organization. We trust and we enable IBMers to be agile and think like profit owners within the organization. IBM constantly nurtures and infuses a pioneering spirit amongst its employees. Employees are encouraged and rewarded when they demonstrate out-of-the-box-thinking. The inclusive work culture that IBM has to offer its employees encourages them to be innovative and continually push for transformational excellence. Some of the specific initiatives to engage the millennials at IBM include job shadowing, mentoring and reverse mentoring.

As an organization, IBM is constantly increasing the benchmark for its employees. Co creation and Co-learn is a way of life and a 'co-create and co-learn bring out the entrepreneur in an employee. Employees are taken through a learning module where are encouraged to ideate, build and get investment from the business for their own mini-business idea. We also conduct hackathons and encourage developers to build innovative applications and come up with new ideas usually based on a theme.

Initiatives such as THINK40 to target a minimum of 40 hours on self-development for all IBMers with THINK ACADEMY as the core platform for Massive Open Online Courses allow employees time to invest in themselves at their own pace and time. If an organization can only tap into the collective knowledge of its workforce, it will not only save lot money spent on learning but also create a more talented and engaged workforce.

(Image credits: indiatimes)
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