By Tammy Erickson (Harvard Business Review)
For over a decade, Hispanics have been the largest minority in the U.S. This group will represent the largest component of the workforce in California as early as next year. By 2050, Hispanics will represent over half of the nation’s workforce.
Obviously, this cohort is likely to be an important source of talent for major corporations over the years ahead. Not only will they represent a significant proportion of the incoming workforce, but my research shows that they are particularly likely to be drawn to larger, well-established firms with recognized brands. This preference is in sharp contrast to Gen Y’s as a whole; a recent Deloitte survey found that only 20% of Y’s overall want to be a leader in a large organization, while 70% of respondents want to launch their own organization. Because of this, developing an environment that is attractive to Hispanics should be an immediate priority for every major organization.
In an online survey of 602 U.S. workers of Hispanic descent, ages 18-53, conducted this fall by Research Now for my firm, several themes emerged.
Work plays a central role in their lives. Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic respondents to describe work as a major source of personal pride; 71% view it this way. For most, work’s role is clear: 75% describe it as a route to upward mobility and economic security.
Because of work’s role in upward mobility, learning and development are core elements of the optimum work experience. Nearly 85% said that “feeling I am on the steady road to success, getting the training and development I need along the way” is important in creating excitement and engagement at work. “Being able to learn new things as I work” was rated as important in creating a pleasurable work experience by almost the same percentage.
Job security and, with that, the employer’s reputation and stability are extremely important.In choosing the ideal employer, 91% said the company would have to be financially stable and secure; 63% rated this characteristic as extremely important. The job’s long-term security and the company’s financial stability was rated as the third most important consideration for moving to a new company, behind only better benefits and base salary; 82% viewed these factors as important or extremely important. And the importance of both learning and long-term security is reflected in Hispanics’ view of the ideal employee experience: the most popular feature, rated as important or highly important by 72%, was career paths that broaden options rather than narrowing them.
Most Hispanics are part of two-career families, with shared decision-making responsibilities, often extending beyond the nuclear family. Location is important and decisions are collaborative. For 74%, where to live is a shared decision; for 49%, the decision of where to work is made by or shared with others.
Undoubtedly due to the sense of responsibility many Hispanics feel to family, the ideal work arrangements are flexible. Seventy-six percent said allowing the flexibility necessary to pursue other responsibilities and interests was important or extremely important. When describing ideal work arrangements, 72% said they would include time shifting, asynchronous work, and flexible schedules; 68% said they would embrace family-friendly flexibility. When asked to choose among various work arrangements and schedules, one that allows the employee to shift his or her schedule on a daily basis as needed to balance other responsibilities was by far the most popular option, selected by 49%.
Money, particularly money that equates to security or family stability, is important. If looking for a new job today, Hispanics respondents said the number one enticement would be better benefits (such as health insurance, dental insurance and child care) – 86% rated this as important or extremely important – followed closely by a higher base salary, at 85%.
Tapping into this rapidly-growing pool of workers will require a mix of traditional values and forward-thinking practices. The important role work plays in creating paths for upward mobility in many Hispanics’ lives suggest that companies should emphasize well-thought-out career development options – attractive promotion possibilities and access to resources required to attain them. To the extent possible, career advances should be accompanied by status-related recognition, including titles or other symbolic designations (such as badging) that can be easily shared with an extended community.
Companies that provide development support and resources will be well-positioned to attract and retain Hispanics. Informal, on-the-job mentoring, as well as financial support for formal learning is important. Members of this cohort are less likely to be attracted to ambiguous, “define your own job” positions and, perhaps because of the sense of broad family responsibility, are less likely than other ethnic groups to be attracted to entrepreneurial settings.
At the same time, this is clearly a population that values a wide variety of flexible work arrangements. Companies should offer a wide variety of forward-thinking arrangements, with an emphasis on personal choice, to attract and retain top Hispanic talent — it’s their future, after all.
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