They’re always preparing for the next job
by Ryan Estis
Gen Y. Echo-Boomers. Millennials.
Call them what you will and take notice. This burgeoning generation (70 million; born between 1977 and 2002) is coming of age and arriving in the workplace with new ideas about the employment experience. Namely, “why should I work for you?” and “what are you going to offer me?”
Self assured, tech-savvy, and idealistic, they arrive at work with an evolved set of expectations around employment and their opportunity to have an impact from day one. The achievement orientation and natural impatience of this plugged-in, multi-tasking generation inevitably creates conflict for many employers and coincides with a time where the pool of skilled talent is shrinking.
As Boomers approach retirement and employers confront the talent exodus resulting from this natural attrition, many will find it necessary to adjust to the nuances of the new workforce in an effort to attract, engage, and retain a generation that is projected to be increasingly mobile and interested in seeking the next assignment. This may be in the context of the current employment relationship or often, ready to jump to the next gig.
Labels like high-maintenance or unrealistic may tag the Millennials at the onset of their entrance into the workforce. However, this educated, increasingly diverse (one in three is a minority) generation is also anticipated to be both quick to contribute and deeply coveted in a job market that includes a projected talent shortage between four and 10 million by 2010.
As your organization competes to attract the very best among Generation Y and integrate them into the workforce, these nine best practices are important to consider in demonstrating a compelling employment opportunity that ultimately can help you both acquire and retain the new talent you need to accomplish key business objectives into the future:
- Relationship recruiting. While technology has improved recruitment process and efficiency, it is expressly important to remember that recruiting is still a people business. Over-reliance on automation can be a clear sign to candidates they may not be valued at the onset. This generation expects interface, contact, respect, consideration, and prompt response. The most talented among them will have options and need to be sold on the benefit of one opportunity in direct comparison to multiple options. High self-worth is a Gen Y characteristic and candidates need to feel valued during the recruiting process.
- Employment branding. Critical to supporting a quality recruiting function, the employment brand should extend to candidates the unique opportunity and express benefit of employment with your organization. Millennials are image-oriented and expect to be associated with the best. They also want to clearly understand what they will be doing on a day-to-day basis specific to their job. A quality employment brand should demonstrate your compelling employment value proposition and give candidates an opportunity to self-select based on the notion that their skill-set, education, and experience are the right fit for your organization.
- Candidate experience. Make the initial interaction and touch points with your organization a great experience for the candidate. Quality website? Simple application mechanism? Immediate recruiter interface? This tech-savvy generation can be instantly impressed with a great initial experience with your organization or can quickly move on to the next opportunity if the process is frustrating or inadequate.
- Offer. The employment offer should be competitive and compelling. And with this group it isn’t just about the compensation. They value work-life balance and do expect some time away (not time away with so much work hanging over their heads that it doesn’t end up being a real vacation). They’re also financially astute and will be interested in the benefit package that includes a sound 401(k) and/or profit-sharing plan. Moreover, they want to contribute. Make the offer and opportunity to do meaningful work part of the equation.
- Onboarding. With a group that is quick to change, the assimilation into the organization during the first 12 months is critical to ensure engagement and retention. Make sure there is a program that extends beyond orientation and includes relevant training, multiple touch points, consistent communication, and the opportunity to offer opinions about what could be improved upon. Make new employees feel welcome and like part of the team before they even start.
- Mentoring. As an extension of onboarding, offer a mentoring program. New employees should be paired with someone who has an express interest in their success. Pairing candidates from different generations or across segments of the business is a great way to bridge gaps and build understanding throughout the workplace.
- Feedback. The annual review will no longer suffice. This generation expects feedback and validation more often. This may involve some manager training to help bring about the appropriate level of performance review criteria and recognition to keep the new workforce motivated to achieve. Although a recognized virtue, patience is not noted among the group’s core character traits.
- Flexibility. Happy to be held accountable to results, this generation brings some evolved thinking into the workplace with regard to when and how they go about doing their work. They live in a virtual world and respond well to the notion of autonomy around work schedules, telecommuting, home-office arrangements, and understanding that they desire true balance in their lives. If jeans and flip-flops are considered appropriate office attire, that’s a bonus!
- Career-pathing. Upward mobility is a hallmark desire among Millennials. They want to not only understand what is expected in their present capacity but even more important, what will be required to move into the next opportunity. They anticipate changing employers to advance their career, and are always preparing to do exactly that. The employer that can demonstrate expeditious career-pathing has an advantage and opportunity to retain A-level talent among this group longer.
Generation Y, ready to make a meaningful impact, brings a bevy of unique attributes and talent into the workplace. The organization that is sensitive to their needs will have a distinct advantage and opportunity to capture their contributions in this increasingly competitive marketplace.