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  • Writer's pictureHeikki Leskinen

Engage Your Next-Generation Talent Through a Customer-Centric Approach

Three young girls walking together

This post summarizes key insights from Leyla Yacine's master's thesis research on adopting a customer-centric approach to engaging next-generation employees. Leyla, a core team member at The NextGen Project who has been instrumental in much of our client research, explored how the employee-as-customer (EAC) philosophy can help organizations improve their employee value proposition for millennials and Gen Z. Her thesis involved an empirical study at one company, but the conceptual frameworks developed provide useful guidance for leaders looking to engage young talent. Read on for key takeaways from her research on treating next-gen employees as valued internal customers.

Today's next-generation workforce, including millennials and Gen Z, have different attitudes and desires compared to previous generations regarding employer offerings and work environments. To engage and retain top young talent, organizations need to understand these employees' unique profiles and preferences, and treat them as valued "internal customers."

What Does a Customer-Centric Approach Entail?

A customer-centric approach means seeing employees as valued individuals and partners, not just resources. It builds on concepts like employee value proposition (EVP), internal branding, and employee experience. The EVP consists of the total employer offering aimed at satisfying employees. It's conveyed through internal branding and experienced by employees.

Taking a customer-centric approach means understanding your next-gen employees’ perceived value of your EVP and actively co-creating an optimal employee experience tailored to their desires.

Why Does it Matter for Next-Gen Talent?

Research shows that compared to older cohorts, next-gen employees prioritize things like:

  • Continuous learning/development

  • Work-life balance and flexibility

  • Rapid advancement and growth

  • Company culture and connectivity

  • Meaningful work and social impact

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

These preferences require reevaluating traditional EVP design through a customer-centric lens. This approach allows the creation of an EVP tailored to the needs of younger employees as valued internal customers.

How Can Organizations Apply This Approach?

Leyla Yacine's framework for employee experience co-creation incorporates marketing concepts like the means-end chain model, the value build-up model, and the value dynamics model to assess younger employees’ perceived value of the employer's EVP. It suggests organizations:

  1. Map out their intended internal brand (the EVP and organizational values).

  2. Gather data on younger employees’ actual experience of the EVP and their perceived value.

  3. Compare employer vs. employee perspectives to identify gaps.

  4. Make suggestions to realign the EVP with younger employees’ expectations and enhance their experience.

  5. Apply solutions and iterate as needed to evolve with their workforce and their environment.

This process surfaces the demands of younger talent that may be overlooked today but are critical to engaging them. It enables co-creating an EVP and employee experience that drives commitment and retention.

In today’s VUCA world, engaging younger employees and leveraging their skills is essential for organizations to remain innovative, resilient, and socially conscious. A customer-centric approach can help employers better engage the next generation as partners in driving organizational success.

Key Takeaways for Executives:
  • Adopt a customer-centric mindset that sees employees as valued individuals and partners, not just resources.

  • Research the needs, values and preferences of your younger employees. Don't rely on assumptions.

  • Co-create EVPs and employee experiences tailored to what matters most to your younger workforce.

  • Track the perceived value of your EVP through regular employee listening. Be ready to adapt continually.

  • Equip leaders at all levels to foster a culture that resonates with younger employees' desires.

Interested in delving deeper into Leyla's findings? For a comprehensive understanding of her research and its impact on shaping next-generation talent strategies, don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to help you uncover the secrets to attracting, engaging, and retaining millennials and Gen Z in your organization. Contact us today!


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