HR Forum

Scoring with Generation Y

Many employers are seeing a new generation of scholarship seekers who value no-strings-attached(with no bond period) arrangements. Once prized for their guaranteed employment and growth prospects, scholarship bonds are now often seen as constraints.

Scholarships used to be a surefire way to attract top talents, but they no longer guarantee that scholarship holders will join and contribute to the sponsoring company after completing their studies. As such, scholarships can be heavy investments with no assurance of returns for employers.

All the same, faced with an ageing workforce, employers are desperate to hire and retain talented young workers. How then can employers attract and retain top young talents?

Understanding Gen Y

Employers may want to first gain a better understanding of this new generation of workers. Scholarship applicants, undergraduates and fresh graduates normally fall into a group that many are now calling “Generation Y” (Gen Y). Also known as “echo boomers” and “millennials” in the United States, they are born between 1977 and 2002.

Many Gen Ys have yet to reach their 30s, and the first wave of Gen Ys have just started on their careers. They are among the youngest employees in many workplaces, and are often perceived by older colleagues as smart, individualistic, brash and always late.

This is a generation that has been encouraged to speak their minds, ask questions and be expressive and outspoken. They are taught that creativity is often rewarded and being a follower will not get you anywhere.

Technologically savvy, Gen Y workers are multi-taskers who grew up with the Internet and consider social networking tools like Facebook part and parcel of their lives.

Here are some Gen Y traits as identified by authors Dr Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan of Managing Generation Y:

  • High expectations of self: They aim to work faster and better than other workers.
  • High expectations of employers: They want fair and direct managers who are highly engaged in their professional development.
  • Ongoing learning: They seek out creative challenges and view colleagues as vast resources from whom to gain knowledge.
  • Immediate responsibility: They want to make an important impact from Day One.
  • Goal-oriented: They want small goals with tight deadlines so they can build up ownership of these tasks.

Mr Tulgan, the founder of RainmakerThinking and an expert on young people in the workplace, believes that Gen Ys require high maintenance, but they also deliver high performance.

What Gen Ys value

Although they place a high priority on career success, Gen Ys prefer jobs that accommodate their family and personal lives. They want flexibility in hours, telecommuting options and the choice to work part-time or temporarily leave the workforce when they have children.

Most importantly, Gen Ys believe in their own self-worth. They are not shy about trying to make changes in their workplace if they think it will enhance productivity or efficiency.

Embracing change

Employers need to explore new ways to recruit and retain the best of the Gen Y workers. They need to market the qualities of their workplace that are attractive to them.

In the United States, where Gen Y makes up 70 million people entering or who have recently entered the workforce, many companies are already reaching out to college students by telling them about company benefits such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting and online work tools.

Others are promoting their companies by emphasising time off as a reward and recognition for creative thinking.

Employers may want to reinvent their company cultures and work towards embracing change. Companies that are slow to react risk being left behind and regarded as unprogessive by Gen Y workers.

To be a workplace of choice for top Gen Y talents, companies need to encourage and welcome workers who actively find solutions to problems, question outdated protocols and celebrate results-oriented thinking. – Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Nicholas Goh, the managing director of Verztec Consulting. Extracted from Star Classifieds.