Gen Y – How to attract top talent

attracting top talentSarah Hopkins, Director of ResourceBank Executive, gave a well-received presentation at “Playing the Gen Y Game”, a seminar organised by Innecto in October 2013.  Here is a condensed version of her presentation:

“Pampered & Indulgent”, “Trophy Generation” and “Expecting Instant Gratification”; this is how Gen Y or the “millennial generation” (born between 1980 and 2000) is often portrayed in the media.  A mountain of research has been undertaken into what makes them tick.  For instance, did you know they have more piercings and tattoos than any previous generation?  However, from a business sense, Gen Y will be the foundation of the next three decades of employment and leadership within most companies throughout the world.  How to attract and retain the best talent from this generation is a vital topic for any forward thinking business.  Here are my views on what you need to be aware of:

Gen Y want job flexibility in their careers.  Virtual working appeals to Gen Y’s sense of working and having a life – they tend to be more dismissive of ‘face time’ than other generations.

Salary is more important to Gen Y than older generations.  Gen Ys leave education with significant debt and then their ability to purchase their own homes relies on demonstrating significant take-home pay to achieve a mortgage.  They are happy to work longer hours in exchange for more money.

GenY want to contribute to something that aligns with their personal values, have a job which makes a direct impact and an actual difference to the business or society as a whole.  Having been raised in an environment of constant praise and recognition from their parents, they are looking for continuing reinforcement and recognition – they need to “feel valued”.

Gen Y has been raised with technology – they are often described as ‘digital natives’ or ‘tech dependent’ and technology is integrated into their DNA and their daily lives.  They will not be impressed by businesses that are not web and technology savvy.  From a recruitment perspective, they are natural users of job boards and social media is their second favourite media for job-hunting. They also use social media to research organisations and company culture, and will make snap decisions on a potential employer based on the impression of their website/social media channels.

Loyalty to number one
We need to appreciate that Gen Y are loyal to their own aspirations rather than to a company.  They have seen their parents often loyal to one organisation and then become victims of downsizing. They expect to change job every 2–3 years but are also not afraid to re-join companies that they’ve left.  Encourage them to develop, understand if they want to leave, invite them to an “Alumni Community” and keep an open door to welcome them back.

Mentors not bosses
Career progression & personal growth is very important to Gen Y.  They value life-long learning and want an employer who can offer that.  However career progression conversations will often stretch beyond their current organisation so don’t be afraid to talk to them in this way.  Their ideal boss is a coach or mentor, not a dictator.  Social relationships with mentors and colleagues is important too; Gen Y have blurred lines between socialising and work.  They want to be part of a team, have fun & make friends.

Open Communication
Gen Y don’t respond to blatant selling – or pushy recruiters.  They like to find out information, mostly through the web, but also like to talk and discuss opportunities in an open way.  Senior managers need to be open and communicate freely – your leaders need to promote themselves and your business through your website, LinkedIn and Twitter – and many progressive companies use “talent beacons” (role models who potential and new employees can identify with and visualise themselves in that position) and encourage those beacons to spend an hour a day communicating on intranets, websites and social media.

Quick to give feedback
Gen Y has grown up with Trip Advisor and Facebook and are happy to give positive and negative feedback online.  They are strong networkers and will listen to recommendations about future employers from friends, colleagues & alumni.  This is apparent on websites such as Glassdoor (which is US focussed but you should all keep an eye on).  Earlier this year, Dish was widely reported as the “The Worst US Company to Work For” following poor feedback on Glassdoor.    In the UK, online feedback is now very common on Facebook Careers pages – which are full of comments such as “I applied two weeks ago but have heard nothing – get your act sorted.”  It’s so important to respond quickly to applicants from Gen Y.  For example, all unsuccessful applicants to World Duty Free Group (a ResourceBank RPO client), are informed quickly that they have been rejected and given full feedback on the reasons why.   Quick, honest feedback is vital to Gen Y.

ResourceBank is helping companies throughout the business community to develop talent management and attraction strategies which reflect the demands of Gen Y.  Here are our top 5 tips on things to remember when targeting Gen Y.

1. Be open, honest & clear – and use a multi-media strategy
2. Provide examples and beacons
3. Link careers and lifestyles – provide flexibility and choice
4. Mentor and Coach, don’t dictate – don’t judge Gen Y by your own values
5. Keep door open, maintain contact through Alumni community and treat as a talent pool

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