Benefit from young innovators
By 2020, Millennials will make up over a third of the global workforce, bringing with them challenges as well as opportunities for potential employers. Many large, established companies are investing in programs and activities to attract young talent in an effort to become more innovative and stay ahead of the technology curve.
James Dyson, a billionaire inventor who is past retirement age, has hired young engineers (the average age is 26) to work in his new, top-secret laboratory in England. Their task, according to an article in Forbes magazine is “to experiment fearlessly, fail constantly and document those failures.”
These collaborations are proving to be rewarding win-win situations for both schools and companies involved.
Eventually, these failures are translated into successes, which generate some very hefty profits for Dyson’s business. Dyson says he invests in young engineers for their enthusiasm and lack of fear. “Not taking notice of experts and plowing on because you believe in something is important. It’s much easier to do when you’re young,” he says.
Many companies are investing in corporate innovation and graduate programs that tap into the university pool. This is done through partnerships between companies and educational institutions and mentorships with local universities. These collaborations are proving to be rewarding win-win situations for both the schools and the companies involved.
Global leader ASSA ABLOY teams up with universities on various projects and mentor programs, and encourages its staff to act as company ambassadors at alumni activities. ASSA ABLOY also offers trainee programs for recent graduates. “We have employed most of our younger talents in the Stockholm software department this way,” says Mikael Lindberg, Product Innovation Manager Software, adding that the company recruits young people “to challenge the old way of thinking and look at things with a new approach or challenge the way we see things.”
Lindberg’s colleague, Dominik Kowalczyk, Manager, Product Innovation Shared Technologies at ASSA ABLOY Poland, has experienced what can happen when young, well-educated people enter a traditional company. He observed how one intern, for example, helped create an IT service tool to support product development.
“He injected a different mindset into the team,” says Kowalczyk. “His positive, can-do attitude made the whole team believe in a new way and this resulted in the ability to provide a state-of-the-art engineering solution with an easy ‘Apple-like’ user experience.”
The company also participates in career fairs and gives talks at conferences to build brand awareness and ensure visibility among this attractive group. Since young people with the right technical skills are in such high demand today, it can sometimes be difficult to recruit them – and these potential recruits have come to expect a lot from an employer.
There are so-called intrapreneur initiatives that invest in retaining talented employees by providing them with the resources to innovate.
Kowalczyk says that the younger generation places more emphasis on having an interesting and meaningful job. These days people are coming to the company because they believe in the products and the company values.”
Initiatives to innovate
Once inside a company there are so-called intrapreneur initiatives that invest in retaining talented employees by providing them with the resources to innovate. Employees have an opportunity to put their ideas and creativity into products, user experiences and more.
ASSA ABLOY’s Shared Technologies division holds Innovation Days for its employees. These are days that are devoted to creativity and dreaming up innovations whereby employees are encouraged to drop their daily work to focus on developing ideas.
“Innovation Days have really helped to release the creative power of our people,” says Lindberg. “Ideas for new products and improvements to almost everything else are a very good driving force for the company.”
By Cari Simmons
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