The Performance Pro

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Attracting & Retaining Gen-Y

Our emerging workforce is presenting employers with challenges of a magnitude never before seen. Cries of frustration are being heard as employers struggle to find out what makes their young employees tick.

Born 1980-2000+, Generation-Y (also known as the Millennials) provides a huge pool of about 80 million from which we can draw from to fill the 2006 labor shortages in our country. With Traditionalists (born before 1945)retiring, and Boomers not far behind, Gen-Y’s far outnumber their Gen-X seniors and are phasing in to dominate the workforce for approximately the next 70 years.

Generation-Y was described by Bruce Tulgan and Dr. Carolyn Martin in Managing the Generation Mix-Part II as “The most demanding generation in history.” Things we know: Traditional management is out. There is nothing ‘traditional’ about Gen-Y.

Recent surveys show that the top three ways to get a Gen Y to join an organization were salary, friendly casual work environment and development opportunities—in that order. While money was rated at the top, they want their careers personalized through special assignments, mentorships and training. Unfortunately, for businesses in this labor shortage, the trend to high salaries and signing bonuses are likely to continue.

Being the first generation to be deemed as “experts” in their homes by the age of 8. They have had their parents asking for their opinion and advise on everything from programming cell phones to which key to click on the computer. They do not have to prove their ‘value’ as preceding generations did who were raised with the “Be seen and not heard” rule. As a result this new group has incredible confidence.
They are not easily intimidated and can be blunt in expressing themselves.
“I don’t have time to be intimidated,” says one 26-year-old ad agency copywriter. “It’s not that I’m disrespectful, it’s just a waste of energy to be fearful.”

The work ethic? We have raised our children in a society where hard work on the part of the student is no longer seen as a key factor in academic success. This is seen in direct contrast to immigrants who were define their accomplishments synonymously with hard work. It is also interesting to note that on ACT tests where the knowledge of the English language was comparable, immigrants more often aced the test while middle class children of college graduate parents pulled C’s and D’s – with the determined difference between the two groups being motivation – or the lack of it. University of Pennsylvania researchers suggest that the reason so many U.S. students are ‘falling short of their intellectual potential’ results from their failure to exercise self-discipline”.

The blank stares. Representing a ‘disconnect’, this is a prevalent phenomena being experienced by teachers, parents, and management alike with Gen-Yers. What does it mean? There are several components: Some scientists say that the immersion in technology has actually changed the way that brains work. Marriott International has responded by changing its training approach to multisensory, rapid-fire series of sound-bites and is now developing bite-size “edutainment” training podcasts so employees can download and receive the information via their favorite mode. Another reason for thedisconnect: No emotional involvement. Through video games and other media, Gen-Y has been in a sense “desensitized”. Busy and overprotective parents and home life have eliminated the ground work for developing problem-solving processes. Teachers are repeatedly telling me that their students seem to be unable to think for themselves – quick to reach for their cell phone to obtain advice on how to respond. Being raised in a society where everything is packaged in the “experience” (as initiated for the Gen-Xers) Gen-Y has been groomed to be accustomed to being entertained, and having fun. This has, in essence, become their motivation.

- Resumes sent by snail mail are part of the past. This tech savvy generation will send their resume online, expecting an immediate response.
-Advertise on multiple online job posting boards (trade, local, national).
-Create a job posting board on your company’s website, providing an easy way for candidate to respond and apply.
- Actual ad copy will be important. Include the appealing perks that your work culture provides for Gen-Yers, i.e.: development opportunities; family friendly; life balance;
fast paced, freedom, company leagues, state of the art technology. Use key words that will attract on-line searches.
-Once hired, assign a mentor.
-Ask their opinion. Invite to participate on committees.
-Provide a Mentor and explore the possibility of job shadowing.
-Provide “high speed” feedback . Go to a daily or weekly feedback system, not annually.
-Implement a training plan to initiate growth and empowerment


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