- On April 3, 2017
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I think we have all had to deal with a Gen Y employee or colleague at some stage in our career and have witnessed firsthand how their working attitude differs from the other defined ‘Generations’ such as the ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Gen X’ . Throughout my career in Recruitment I have personally met hundreds if notthousands of candidates from all the different generations and honestly, a substantial amount of Gen Y candidates have thrown some pretty audacious reasoning at me when defining ‘why’ they should get a payrise of 30 – 40% after 12 months in the business. Or ‘why’ they don’t feel challenged in their current role as they have learnt every single little thing there is to ever know about it or ever will need to know….. in 6 months!
No don’t get me wrong, I love meeting driven people determined to achieve their goals and realise their expectations, but sometimes in the past (like you I’m sure) I have wanted to firmly point out to this Gen ‘Why’ how the real business world works……..Or should I say in 2015, how it used to work, because with the onset of each generation, whilst the desired outcomes remain the same, to retain your competitive advantage, the path has to change.
The only thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that we have work that needs to be completed and we have a workforce willing to do it – however, in order to maximise the retention & productivity rates of one of the most innovative and loyal generations of workers the world has seen to date, we should adopt a different approach in managing this dynamic, highly versatile and tenacious group of workers!
The below article explores the myths of Gen Y and some insightful realities.
GEN Y’ MYTHS
Gen Y at Work: Not So Different After All
Research from the CEB shows that many of the beliefs about Generation Y are myths. Case in point: Y’ers are the most loyal to their employer
The Managers’ Guide: By Brian Kropp
As the economy shows intermittent signs of life and the labor market thaws, albeit slowly, organizations are revisiting the employment value proposition they offer to attract and retain the best-quality employees. Attracting Generation Y, however, still vexes most organizations. One company researched by the Corporate Executive Board has spent millions on a dedication team within its HR function that produces unique programs for its Gen Y employees. The team has implemented customized development programs, team building activities, and social responsibility initiatives tailored to attract and retain Gen Y employees. While it’s still too early to see if the investments have been effective, it does raise the question: As the economy and labour markets improve, will these investments be necessary to attract and retain Gen Y?
Some researchers argue that the investments will be necessary because Gen Y’ers are fundamentally different in their approach to work, while others believe that as Gen Y’ers age, their behaviour and approach to work will fall in line with those of the previous generations. The reality is that most perceived differences about Gen Y are myth. Over the past three years, the Corporate Leadership Council, a program of the Corporate Executive Board, has surveyed more than 400,000 employees in different generations about their approach to work. This analysis reveals that the generational differences centre on satisfying Gen Y’s needs in new and different ways rather than satisfying needs that are different from those of Gen X and Baby Boomers.
Myth 1: It’s all about the money for Gen Y
When comparing across Gen Y, Gen X, and baby boomers, each age group indicates compensations is either the most important or second-most important job attribute (out of 38 examined) they care about when evaluating potential employers. What is different, though, is how Gen Y evaluates their level of compensation, which creates the need for an entirely different compensation communication strategy.
The difference is this:
- Gen X and boomers want to know how much compensation they get and whether the level of compensation will meet their needs.
- Gen Y employees focus much more on their level of compensation relative to their peers and less on the absolute amount of compensation.
The implication for executives is that communication about compensation levels across the company (a subject often avoided in previous generations) will become more important in engaging Generation Y. And that communication must be more transparent than ever:, Organizations will be pushed by Gen Y employees to share specific pay ranged, bonus amounts, and in some cases, the specific pay amounts of employees to effectively engage them.
Myth 2: Gen Y isn’t loyal
The reality is that Gen Y is actually more loyal to employers than either boomers or Xers. 36% of Gen Y employees indicate that they feel obliged to stay with their employer. Without a doubt, that is a low number but only 31 per cent of Gen X and 32 per cent of baby boomers feel obliged to stay with their employer. In addition, 47 per cent of Gen Y employees indicate their employer has the employee’s best interests in mind when they are making decisions, compared with 40 per cent and 41 per cent for Gen X and baby boomers, respectively.
While Gen Y is slightly more loyal then previous generations, they don’t face the same constraints as other generations do in their life decisions. Gen Y is more interested in exploring different types of career paths rather than locking into one for the course of their working life. This creates a perceived lack of loyalty rather than an actual lack of loyalty.
In response, leading companies have adopted two distinct strategies. They have overinvested in creating multiple career paths and options for Gen Y employees, both to leverage their loyalty and to respond to their desire for multiple career paths, with those multiple career paths ideally being pursued at their companies. Second, they have been more open to hiring boomerang employees (employees who have left the company and then returned). Boomerang employees generally become higher performing when they come back, because they are already familiar with their employer and have gained valuable sills by working at a different company.
Myth 3: Gen Y Communicates Differently
A third major believed difference across generations centre around communication styles. While Gen Y is significant more likely to use text messages and social networking sites in their personal lives as a method of communication, this is not true when it comes to communication within the workplace. When communicating with their manager, 18 per cent of Gen X and Gen Y employees indicate that they predominately use networking tools, text messages, or instant messaging communication tools. By comparison, 15 per cent of baby boomers say they predominately use the same tools when communicating with their managers.
The contrast is greater when it comes to communicating with peers” 25 per cent of Gen Y employees use new communication tools in peer interaction, compared with 19 per cent for Gen X and 16 per cent for baby boomers. New communication technologies will continue to expand in the workplace, but a communication tool gap is unlikely to emerge across the workforce, because older generations in the workplace are already adopting these tools. The objective of executives should be how to improve communication across the organization rather than focusing on specific communication tools for different generations.
The reality of Gen Y in the workplace is that they aren’t as different as we might think. What motivates their performance is relatively similar to other generations, but the best companies meet these needs in new and different ways. Those companies focus on clearly communication around compensation differentiation, creating multiple career paths and options, and enabling peer-to-peer communication tools for all employees to attract, manage, and retain Gen Y employees.