'Generation Y' has been the most pampered and indulged generation in history. Growing up with widespread Internet access and a host of technological gadgets, this generation is the most tech-savvy and connected.
This group of twenty-somethings are moving into the labour force during a time of great demographic change, where previous generations are continuing to work for longer than ever before. 20-year olds are therefore working alongside 60-year olds, and newly graduated college students are supervising people old enough to be their parents!
Issues That Are Important To Gen Y Job Seekers and Workers
Gen Y'ers have different views on life and work compared to previous generations and are not phased by having a number of 'careers' throughout their working life, instead of one or two at the most. Therefore, if employers want to recruit and get the best out of this emerging work force they need to utilise different strategies and policies to retain them.
A Relational / Nurturing Working Culture
Gen Y-ers view as extremely important the forming of strong friendships with their co-workers and bosses. There is much anecdotal evidence to support the view that many people have stayed in jobs for longer, simply because they loved working with their fellow employees. For this reason many Gen Y-ers seem to be gravitating towards the service industries and looking for jobs in event management, hospitality, hotel management or catering – all areas that thrive on good teamwork and camaraderie.
Flexible hours, flexible work schedules and the option of remote working are all important to Gen Y-ers because they don't make the same distinction between 'work' and 'leisure' that other generations have. Work and life overlap continually and there is an expectation that work will fit into their personal lives and not the other way around.
Gen Y-ers are coming to the workplace more dynamically equipped than previous generations to contribute from day one. This means that they don't see the value or purpose in doing menial tasks while they 'earn their dues'. For this reason it is better to give them challenging tasks from the outset.
Opportunities For Growth
Gen Y-ers value lifelong learning and, in conjunction with this, also tend to have low boredom thresholds. For this reason it is important to keep them engaged with opportunities to develop new skills and try new things. They are frequently looking for employers who offer tuition reimbursement, sabbaticals and other growth opportunities.
Gen Y-ers are more open to serving and volunteering than previous generations and are more conscious about making their contribution to the wider world. They are therefore naturally more attracted to organisations that demonstrate a social conscience and have a value-driven culture.
In a culture of rising education fees, Gen Y-ers come to the workplace with a higher level of debt than previous generations and are therefore concerned with achieving the best salary possible. Some employers have tackled this situation proactively by setting in place programmes to help employees pay off their student finance.
Loyalty is not necessarily high on the list of Gen Y-ers' values, but they will seek out employers who have a plan for their success. Employers should think carefully about their advancement pathways to provide a steady progression through the organisation.
Culturally speaking, most Gen Y-ers were raised in a bubble of praise and recognition from their families, so constant reinforcement and recognition is something they have come to expect. Genuine work recognition programmes will be valuable in retaining their services.
It may seem trivial to state that Gen Y-ers have more tattoos and piercings than any previous group of workers, but it is relevant to the workplace culture. This personal style extends to how they want to dress for work, preferring casual over business attire whenever possible, through a desire to express their individuality.
Numerous studies have shown that Gen Y-ers have an entrepreneurial spirit, with many launching their own businesses at a relatively young age. Employers can keep them engaged for longer by creating in-house schemes to harness their entrepreneurial potential – such as an open forum for brainstorming or incubating innovative new ideas.
Just as the work we do must change in order to match the times we live in, so must our methods of recruitment and our working practices. The way in which an organisation manages, recognises and rewards its employees is not only crucial to its effectiveness in recruiting and retaining Generation Y workers – it is crucial to the organisation's future success as well.