Secrets behind making Gen Y feel at home |
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Secrets behind making Gen Y feel at home

Published on Friday, 26 Aug 2011
Irene Lee
Director of human resources and administration, Ricoh
Photo: Sam Tsang
How do you retain and engage your young staff? 

We hire more than 100 people every year. We recently boosted our comprehensive talent management programme under the stewardship of a high-level task force to maximise the results of our hiring and retention efforts and to assist our staff in their career development. 


Hiring Gen Y employees is not easy, and it is even more difficult to retain them. Their attitude to work is quite different from those of the previous generations, requiring us to come up with new initiatives. Paying more attention to the needs of new hires and bringing them up to speed can make everyone happy.

We are using a three-pronged approach. We want our fresh hires to feel we are taking good care of them. At the same time, we also want to make sure they have someone to talk to about their problems or anxieties connected with a new job and that they see the opportunities for career development.

I led a top-level "Total Onboarding Task Force" which was set up by managing director Aaron Yim. In April, task force members from the sales, technical and human resources functions reviewed the total onboarding process in different departments. They interviewed new employees to understand their needs and to come up with proposals. 


As a result, we set up a coaching system for new staff. We are working with professional coaches to supplement the work of line managers and offer one-on-one coaching that helps new hires to focus on what they need to do, thrive in their new role and look at challenges as an opportunity to grow.

Coaches also offer emotional support and help new hires focus on long-term goals and opportunities rather than on small frustrations. Five one-hour face-to-face talks and unlimited phone and email consultations are available for new hires.

We also set up a "Newbies Club" in July for employees who joined us within the past year. This club makes sure that new staff get to know and help each other. It also offers a chance for young employees to shine. The more active ones become committee members and, by organising games, parties and outings, develop their communication and leadership skills. They will feel empowered as they get recognised.

The first activity, set for September, will be a half-day excursion and barbeque in Sai Kung for about 150 new hires who joined last October. If they have good friends of the same age group in the company, they will have good chemistry and are more likely to stay. I can also observe how they talk to each other and understand better what their needs are. In addition, if we take care of our new staff, they will become engaged, adapt quicker, and contribute faster. That, in turn, gives them self-confidence and benefits their supervisors and the company. 

Engagement and retention  

For the past three years, the company has been conducting a six- to seven-month "Superb Team Leadership Programme" to develop people who support our mission, and to increase engagement and retention. It has covered 60 people so far.

The programme promotes communication and interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, organisation and planning, and builds collaborative teams. Every month there is a different topic with clear objectives. They are taught appropriately, from role play and group activity, to lectures and case studies. At the end of the programme, there is a "dissertation project" which participants have to put together and present to senior leaders. We do not need supermen, we need super team leaders, and this programme creates the foundation for effective teamwork and cooperation between departments. Participants also join the "Buddies Club" as we hope buddies will help each other. 

Feedback and results  

While the first two initiatives are too recent to produce clear results, they have been welcomed by new hires. As for leadership training, there is an evaluation which clearly shows positive feedback from participants. Employees gain a lot and supervisors give positive comments. We believe the combination of three programmes will increase engagement.

Irene Lee, director of human resources and administration, Ricoh

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