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Digital natives will force large companies to change

Blog by Thomas De Wulf, Managing Director at ORMIT


By Thomas De Wulf 

Managing Director at ORMIT

Ask a hundred young graduates about their image of large companies and institutions. Often you will hear: little innovative, rigid, not transparent, heavily structured, hierarchical, little attention to personal development, focused on short term profit and other words along these lines. When you also take the high turnover rates of these young graduates during the first two years of their careers into account, you can imagine the challenge large companies face in attracting and keeping young talent.

A new generation joins the workforce

Current graduates, digital natives and part of the Millennials generation have a fundamentally different look on work and society. This generation reflects perfectly the period it grew up in, the so-called third industrial revolution. The digital shift is only the tip of the iceberg of this revolution, which is deeply impacting business and society. In a context where the cards are being reshuffled, all companies across all sectors will have to change in order to stay competitive in a world where the big no longer eats the small but rather the agile beats the slow.

The power of digital natives

We believe that the lever of this fundamental change is less digital technology but rather the mindset and personal leadership of these digital natives: agile, failing forward, self-aware, able to deal with complexity, transversal, connected and global. This generation looks, often in an unconscious way, differently to existing business models.

Hiring these digital natives will help large companies in their transformation and presents an opportunity to re-think old structures to fit them to the new economic reality. But in a tight labour market with increased competition of a growing start-up scene, it is increasingly important for large corporates to adapt to this new generation and show them the true assets of their company. We are convinced that traditional, large organisations do have a lot to offer to these young talents but they need to be more aware of what is important to them and adapt to these needs. 


How to attract digital natives

- Make sure you have an authentic and compelling corporate story. A story that is honest, transparent and that clearly indicates where you are today, what your ambitions towards innovation are and how every individual adds up value. 

- Move towards an open, ever-present but not oppressive, real-time but not time-focused leadership style.

- Invest in personal development and believe in the potential of young graduates. Offer them challenging assignments, give them the right context and support. Look also to what an individual can do instead of what he or she has done. Personal development is not only about training, but a genuine interest in helping an individual, with his or her own personality, skill set and attitude to make a difference. Installing a feedback culture is a must. 

- Free your organisation as much as possible of unnecessary administrative and hierarchical complexity. Make things simple and decisions fast.

ORMIT and young leaders

We notice within our customers’ network an increasing complexity and the need to transform and challenge their business and way of working. They need a stronger employer brand to attract new talent that can help them in their challenges while at the same time they are facing hiring freezes and cost savings.

Therefore I invite our customers to open up their organisational boundaries to access young talent and to co-create with small and passionate companies, like ORMIT, specialised in attracting and developing young leaders. This will help them with becoming more lean and agile, with getting value for money and with focusing on their core business. Let’s work together to attract these millennials.

This article is inspired by the Boson project.