Aloysias MiamaneAloysias Maimane, TomorrowToday’s resident expert on young talent, especially young black South African talent, questions whether companies truly understand what these young people see as perks and what they just expect to receive by default. Knowing the difference is a key component to talent retention.

The new generation of talent has no need for titles. They refer to everyone by their first names, as if they were long lost friends. They seem to flout office policy whenever they can. Yet, this new generation of talented staff has a great sense of entitlement. They are young people who believe they are owed, and therefore demand, a place in the business. Most people would perceive this as arrogance. The question is: Is talent holding the workforce hostage?

I had an incredible meeting with a frustrated business manager who was irate at the new talent they were recruiting. He felt that these young people had opportunities and multiple options that they as a company could not compete with. After they had finally attracted these “Kids� to the company (by the way, they were mainly 25 year olds) they didn’t just come with skill and talent but a resounding sense of arrogance. These were “kids� who demanded parking spaces, posh offices and privileges normally associated with years of experience and dedication under the belt.

The question became louder in my head and I began to ask the question: Was talent holding the workplace hostage? Can business and industry afford to be taken over?

The demands and the stakes are high: for business to survive, talent is needed more now than ever.

As I began to reflect on this journey a few things emerged and began to make sense. I looked at companies around the world that seemed to successfully integrate talent into the fibre of the business.

Truth is, psychologists tell us that we act and behave in accordance with the values in our lives. The higher value is always the one we adhere to the most. That’s why we’d be prepared to lie to protect someone we loved – the love for that person is a higher value than the desire to be truthful. The point is simply that if the values of your corporation are ones that authentically resonate with those of these talented young people there seems to be a lesser interest in other perks. Unfortunately, though, many things that used to be regarded as perks (e.g. designated parking bays, laptop computers, administrative support) are seen as necessities by these young people – not perks, but just “hygiene factors�.

Some of the “perks� these young people expect can be used to connect to higher values. Take for example, Casual Fridays. It is at these casual Fridays that workers are more likely to go for a drink afterwards with senior managers. A perk for some. But the real higher value was that solid relations and engagement are built. Stories are shared over a drink, which aid the values of the company to become a shared reality and lived out in everyday work-practice, as opposed to being filed for review before the next strategy meeting.

When it comes to these perks, one could be forgiven for wondering where the list ends. Day care for children in the premises, Dry cleaning services for workers, concierge services, extra holidays, massages in the office, and the list goes on. I suppose in this instance again one looks at how the higher value is the integration of “work� and “life�. For today’s talent there is no longer a separation: my work is an incredible part of my life and so if I can merge the two more effectively, then so be it.

I guess after discussing all these issues with the executive, a story emerged out about what today’s talent perceive as perks. A young executive shared about how they felt it was important for them to play LAN games through the company’s computer system after work on Fridays. Using company equipment for personal use! Now that’s a perk for today’s talent. The company represented a social network that facilitated the value – that I could be at work and still hang out with the people I work with afterwards. The result: a greater integration of my work and life.

It is not that today’s talent aren’t willing to work hard or that they hold industry hostage. It is that the perception of perks needs redefinition. The boss is no longer the headmaster or chief executive officer. The boss is now a coach and mentor. He is still a part of the team and provides direction and leadership, but not control and social status.

Today’s talent is not arrogant, nor do they have a greater sense of entitlement. They simply have changed what are perceived as perks. What were perks before are now just a part of contracts, and previously unheard of requests have become the new perks and rewards. Companies need to work these out (hint – why not ask them?) if they want to attract and retain today’s young talented workers.


Aloysias Maimane is part of the team, with a particular passion on helping clients to understand today’s young talent. He can be contacted at .

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