Four keys to successfully employing Generation Y

In His book Y-Size Your Business, Gen Y’er Jason Ryan Dorsey says, “In my view, Gen Y’s emergence in the workforce is a huge strategic opportunity for an employer to create short -term gains as well as position themselves for a long-term competitive advantage if they know how to employ us.” Yet how many businesses are throwing up their hands in despair at their Generation Y employees and are either giving in to them or giving up with them?

Neither is a satisfactory long term solution and so at Y Consulting we have developed a series of suggested strategies in four key areas to help inspire and instruct you in getting the best out of your Generation Y staff.


1.            Recruiting

Effective employment begins with good recruitment strategies and good recruitment starts with good advertising. Advertising to Generation Y is more than conveying information – it’s conveying an impression. Scott Corrigan, director of human resources for media giant Hearst Magazines has noted correctly that “Fantastic ads not only represent the true essence of the role, but the spirit of the company, and team the job resides within. You need to have fun with it. Be interesting. Make it your own.”

Recruitment also involves knowing how to interview in ways that identify good Generation Y employees from not so good. Simply noting that they “interviewed well” is not enough. This generation lacks some of the social skills of their predecessors meaning that a great worker can make a poor impression simply because they’ve not been taught the skills of presenting themselves well at an interview.

Thirdly, recruitment of Generation Y is also about having an effective induction programme. As Bruce Tulgan has noted in Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, “Day one is the most important day. You have to plan for Gen Yers’ first day of work like you plan for your kid’s birthday party.”


2.            Retaining

Having recruited the best Generation Y employees, how do we retain them? By creating a culture so appealing to them that they will want to stay with us even if a competitor offers slightly more money. How? Firstly recognise the significance of relationships for them and create a culture that is highly relational – one where they like working because they like the people and the interaction they have with them.

Secondly, create a flexible workplace where, as much as possible, they have a say in employment and workplace conditions. The more they feel they have a say in customising their job to suit themselves, the easier it is to retain their services.

Finally, Generation Y have grown up collaborating, either in the classroom or online. Being part of a team helps retention through giving them a sense of belonging and the opportunity to use their unique skills for the greater good of the team.


3.            Managing

Generation Y presents some unique challenges when it comes to managing them. They lack the work ethic and understanding of corporate practice of older generations which can cause frustration for both parties. An effective manager of Generation Y employees will need to learn how to train them in a way that they listen and learn.

Managers will also need to look at the way they offer instruction to them. Generation Y process information a little differently from previous generations and so our instructions to them need to be tailored to meet these differences if we want these instructions followed.

Finally our management style itself needs to change from supervision to mentoring through which we communicate a desire to help our Generation Y employees be the very best they can be, thus helping them meet their employment goals while at the same time having our own company goals met.


4.            Motivating

The finally key in working with Generation Y is in understanding what motivates them. They can appear lazy and unmotivated until we find those things that really drive their motivation. The first of these is feedback. They want to know how they are doing and they want to know often. Like all of us they love positive feedback – the real skill comes in learning how to offer corrective feedback.

The second motivating factor is concerned with our willingness to consult with them. Generation Y have ideas and they want to be heard. Of course not all (or many?) of their ideas are practical but some will be. A wise business owner will create ways to let them offer solutions and will help them think through the effectiveness of what they suggest.

Finally, Generation Y are motivated by work that offers them a sense of purpose and meaning. Find the key to doing this and you might be surprised at the change you see in their attitude and output.

Misti Burmeister summarises motivation well in From Boomers to Bloggers, when she writes, “When the team’s or organization’s vision/mission is clear and each individual understands how they contribute toward accomplishing that vision/mission, the conversation is set for success. When you add demonstrating appreciation for your employees, compensating them appropriately, giving them opportunities to grow and learn, and allowing their voices to be heard, you have a recipe for success across generations.”

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