5 Tips for Catching (and Keeping) Generation Y Employees

Many companies invest heavily in employee recruitment initiatives using all avenues to reach diverse promising talent and accessing the ones that best fit their organization. Candidates are attracted to jobs for all sorts of reasons. Whether it’s the company’s reputation or the competitive compensation package, how and why they came to you is not nearly as important as what you will do with them once they are there.

Recruiting and on-boarding new employees is much like a dating relationship. Just as the way people date is changing as generation Y grows older, the way employees manage their careers and select their employers is also changing. Most people can know within the first 3 seconds of meeting someone if they are attracted to them or not. The same is true for new employees. Candidates have a subconscious checklist of desirable traits and they know within minutes of stepping in the building (and sometimes simply reading a job description) if the company and job is for them.

You’ve attracted the candidate. You are past the interview and successfully signed a contract. Now what? Just like in today’s dating scene, once a relationship is past the initial meeting and on to the “dating” stage the game has changed drastically in the past 20-30 years. Personal growth and independence takes precedence over company loyalty or relationship status. Many older generations are frustrated in the work place because it’s seemingly harder to hold the attention of Millennials and often times are they written off as selfish or unfocused, known to jump from one job to another quickly. Growing up in a technology age where information is at their fingertips and anything they could ever desire can be delivered the next day, generation y employees hold a much different sense of time and priorities.

The positive side to this perceived short attention span is that generation y employees can often times come with a great deal of experience at younger ages as they often postpone marriage and family until they’ve developed their careers. This makes them more internationally mobile and, on average, they have experienced a wider range of cultures than previous generations. This can be a great asset to international organizations if you have the right set up to harness their enthusiasm and need for new challenges.

How do you engage them and hold their attention in this early honeymoon stage? The on-boarding process can make or the relationship with socializing and information at the forefront of priorities for a Millennial employee. There are 5 key areas to focus on which will help retain Generation Y employees and ultimately make a difference to your bottom line.

Inspire them
Inspire your employees to be passionate about their job and the company. They know there are countless jobs out there with similar roles so what makes this one any different? Give them a greater view of what the company does, where they fit into the big picture and how their role directly and indirectly contributes to the company. Employees need to feel a sense of belonging to something bigger. Millennials are known for needing praise and appreciation for their work so knowing their contribution helps give them self-worth in the job before they even begin delivering results.

Give them information
Make all information readily available and easily accessible to your employees. Don’t make them have to hunt for it. Lack of information are unnecessary obstacles for employees and for those that are used to looking up info in a matter of seconds, they won’t stick around long if they can’t find what they need easily. Introduce them to all info about their role, the company, key stakeholders in all projects they could be associated with and all necessary info on systems and processes they could encounter in their daily business.

Show them career options
Known as a “generation me” group, Millennials employees want to see a vision of where they will go with a company. Job security is no longer a concern but rather “what’s my next step?” If you don’t show them a possible career path with your company, chances are likely that they are subconsciously thinking about the next step with their next company. Give them a clear idea with not just a direct path but options to explore and develop in different areas.

Make it social
Millennials are known for wanting flexible work schedules and more “me time” on the job. Give their on-boarding experience a human face. Rather than only giving contact lists and information sheets, engage them in meetings with key stakeholders, create regular avenues for collaboration and open communication for them and their team members and provide interactive online and in-person training.

Challenge them
As I mentioned previously, their sense of timelines are shorter than previous generations. With the “me and now” mentality, they will be less patient and the “honeymoon” stage of their employment will typically be shorter. You want to engage them from the start and give them a sense of accomplishment. In addition to proper training, they want to be challenged and have meaningful work from Day 1. The best way to harness their enthusiasm is to give them work where they can clearly see the impact of their results.

The growing generation gap in the work place creates ever changing challenges for companies in recruiting and retaining employees. There is no one-size-fits-all solution so companies must constantly reinvent themselves and explore new solutions. As the number of Millennials in the work place continues to grow, the game of attraction continues to change, so don’t fight it, get on board!

Written by Cristina Tschudi
March 16, 2015