Generation Y (born ~ 1978-1994) will comprise nearly 75% of the world’s workforce in the near future. From their comfort with technology, to their multicultural perspectives, to their insatiable desire for making a difference, Gen Y is expected to revolutionise the workplace. So, if you want to still have a job in a decade from now, then read on, because Gen Y will make or break your business, whether you like it or not. I have 5 compelling reasons why you can’t afford to ignore hiring Gen Y employees and how to prepare yourself so your business can grow with them.
Over 87% of companies are losing Gen Y Workers, according to a survey in the Chicago Tribune (5 August 2013), because they don’t know how to deal with the ‘MIllenials’. The survey highlights facts from a US study which shows a 15% increase in Gen Y employee attrition in 2012 and how it correlates with business loss and costs. So, get your notes app loaded or sharpen your pencil and set your business for success or lose out with the rest who choose to stereotype Gen Y. Gen Y will continue to transform the workplace to suit their needs. After all, the boomers are retiring and the Gen Xers are no longer the young idealists.
No. 1 They avoid you if YOU CARE MORE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY THAN YOUR EMPLOYEES.
If you leave your employees to their own devices once you hire them instead of guiding and leading them, they will feel like you don’t care about their success and so they tend to leave, says Heather Huhman, in her popular blogging4jobs portal. It is important to acknowledge that Gen Y expect more than just a manager to guide them through the daily work battles. They want a mentor who will help them to achieve further career success. So don’t leave your employees to their own devices. Check with your Gen Y’s so they feel valued. They are no different from any other Generation with that desire, they are just a tad more obvious and up front about it.
No. 2 They don’t want you to FIGHT ‘The Gap’
By ‘The Gap’ I don’t mean the difference between the generations, but rather, the concept of the ‘Gap Year’, as writes Bernard Salt, a renowned KPMG demographer in a posting inside the Anne-Marrie Orrok HR blog.
Many Gen Ys have an expectation to have their gap-year and adopt a ‘work to travel’ attitude. Salt says, “Many entrepreneurs have been burned before, when they find out their new employee who they thought would be in for the long haul abandons the company for a trip of unknown length.”
The combination of many Gen Ys still living at home (common because owning their own place in Australia is out of reach for them), cheaper global air travel and easing of age limitations of overseas work visas mean that they have greater access and ease of taking off to explore the globe, sometimes in a way that would make Cook jealous.
Salt says, “Find out if they have quenched their curiosity for travelling or have plans for it in the future. Adopt a flexible policy around Gap Year leave, but build in milestones of achievement to qualify or specific skill development to focus on whilst away to bring back to the organisation. Can you guarantee they will come back? No, but you increase the probability with an open and flexible attitude.”
No. 3 Gen Y trump Gen X on new design and new technology
You don’t need to be a tech buff to notice that the majority of ground breaking applications, portals and technologies for our daily consumer and work life are increasingly designed and developed by Gen Y minds.
Check out Recruitloop if you want a shining Australian example of how years of frustration with traditional boomer and Gen X recruitment processes was turned in to one of the most innovative global HR solutions on the market. Michael Overell and his team trump traditional Gen X HR handling with a brilliant recruiting solution. These guys show that the real sophistication lies in simplicity, speed and flexibility. Andrew Tsanadis from Money Management recently published a punchy snapshot of the Impact Gen Y has on almost every line of business in Australia and New Zealand. He highlights at least 5 compelling arguments to hire Gen Y if you want to survive in an increasingly competitive and technology–reliant world. I know that the last sentence has also been used by boomers and Gen X, but the clear difference between these generations is the speed, flexibility and the determination Gen Y employees and entrepreneurs apply to solving problems. If you want to get the ball rolling, hire a Gen Y.
No. 4 GEN Y don’t seek a job as much as they seek an opportunity
There are 4.2 million Gen Ys making up 20% of Australian population, and a new level of sophistication is needed when engaging with Generation Y. So hype and superficiality don’t persuade this educated generation.
Malcolm Anderson writes in his popular ChangeDrivers blog that Generation Y doesn’t seek a job as much as they seek an opportunity. They have multiple expectations of an organisation – it isn’t just the job description but the workplace culture, the variety, fun, training, management style and flexibility that drives them. However, on-line psychometric testing of 300,000 respondents by Army Recruiting in the UK showed a clear distinction between Gen Y types:
- ‘Leaders’ looking for the opportunity to inspire
- ‘Thinkers’ seeking a way to make an intellectual difference
- ‘Mates’ searching for belonging and adventure
- ‘Escapers’ who are after a new start, money and action.
While these obviously suggest sub-sets of the kind of people to whom the Army might appeal, it does give a lie to the view that Gen Y is self-centred and entirely uninspired by traditional values.
Even in a tightening job market, Generation Ys are still inundated with job ads, though, so in this competitive labour market employers need to offer a compelling ‘Employee Value Proposition’. So avoid phony job ads, key word plastering with meaningless jargon and write a genuine job ad with realistic selection criteria because Gen Y job seekers are increasingly clued in about ATS selection technology and they know how to decipher poorly written job posts. The Gen Ys want a clear reason to join an organisation, so avoid bad marketing and make sure your recruiter understands and observes this.
No. 5 Gen Y are fed up with the problems of the boomers and Xers
The subscription team at the Sydney Morning Herald recently learned first-hand how Gen Y subscribers decided to cancel their newspaper subscriptions in droves after reading Peter FitzSimons’ latest rant stereotyping them as a useless generation. He might have been having another bad day when he wrote his offensive article, but many subscribers voted with their feet and left because they are no longer prepared to read ignorant articles from an influential columnist labelling them as useless. Although admittedly his article is focussed on sport, in the generalisations he displays little understanding and obviously has no idea about student debt, underemployment, life-long renting and other Gen Y issues, which they have inherited as a result of poor Boomer and Gen X management.
I am not surprised that there are members of the Boomer generation and Gen X who have a hard time figuring out what makes the ‘Millennials’, aka Gen Y, tick – people in their 40s, 50s and 60s not understanding people in their 20s and early 30s is as old as time itself. But, if there is one claim about the Millennial generation that is truly absurd, it is the notion that they are all entitled, spoiled, pampered and lazy.
I’ll give you 4 reasons why I think Millennials are the most screwed-over generation in recent history, and the Millenials in Australia are rebelling because they are fed up with it.
- A dying middle class in Australia & New Zealand
Many Boomers and Gen Xers have had their savings depleted by the economic downturn of the late 2000s; many Millennials didn’t even have a chance to build substantial savings. They also see a situation where the filthy rich just keep getting wealthier (often with government help thanks to their immense lobbying power) whilst more and more struggle to keep their heads above water.
- Still dealing with the financial crash of 2008 and other poor policy making
Millennials have a hard time building valuable experience on their resume because they are competing with desperate Gen Xers and Boomers who have decided that being underemployed is better than being unemployed and are willing to understate their resumes in the hope of finding steady, if inadequate, income.
- Endless wars
Post 9/11, the U.S. has been in a pretty much constant state of war and conflict and the rest of the world has been dragged along because of poor diplomacy, vested interests and ill-managed alliances. I believe that the Millenials are fed up with these problems and the leaders who create and perpetuate them.
- Gen Y take matters into their own hands
As Millenials wake up to the world they’ve inherited, they recognise that they have been born into one of the most critical ‘moments’ in history. A convergence of crises: climate change; poverty; inequality; economic instability; materialism; the absurdity of endless growth on a finite world; fundamentalism; resource depletion and peak oil; and ecological systems unravelling – are all threatening human civilisation as we’ve got to know it for last several decades. Amidst these widespread challenges, a record number of young people in the Gen Y and now Z generations are being filled with apathy and despair, living out lives that lack meaning, purpose, or direction.
There are clear signs that Gen Y has had enough of it. There is a groundswell of consciousness and a desire for social change emerging within the generation. Get Up Australia is a perfect example of this.
Young people have always been at the forefront of great movements for social change and never has this been more true than today. Gen Y Millenials are waking up, standing up, and taking action like never before. And unlike generations before them, this Generation acts across geographical boundaries, cultures and generations and are forming planet-wide movements (facilitated by technological advancements) including a myriad of issues, approaches and sectors of society that are all remaking our world. If you choose to ignore or belittle them, than you do so at your own peril.
So dear blog readers, playing the blame game with Boomers and Gen Xers as the baddies and the younger Gen Y or Gen Z as spoiled rotten and useless victims, gets us nowhere and is stopping us from coming up with real solutions.
Rather, policy makers, business owners and informed recruiting professionals should be using their ‘Boomer’ experience as an opportunity to create a new blueprint for employment and for society’s future. So, embrace this generation to help stabilise and secure the future. Connect with and hire Gen Y candidates.
Please feel free to share this post and to comment if you have useful insight and tips and when you’re out their seeking, networking and finding each other, remember to hunt wisely!