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Meteoric rise of Ys

According to a report in Forbes magazine last year, 68 percent of corporate recruiters claim “it is difficult for their organisations to manage the latest generation of employees”. As David Press, CEO of Proceed UK, warns, Generation Y will present a tough challenge for employers.

We've all heard the prediction that Gen Y, by its very nature, will flit from job to job throughout its career, and this presents a significant challenge for employers: not so much how to keep them, but knowing whether they be kept anyway. An Ashridge Business School report revealed that the average member of Generation Y will move from their first job in under two years. With companies under more financial pressure than ever, is it worth spending funds on training someone who will soon take this knowledge elsewhere? Clearly a fresh new generation will require a different style of management in order to draw out their qualities. So what must HR teams do to attract and retain this audience?

While their predecessor, Generation X, was generally less attracted to positions of power, Generation Ys, are seen as born leaders who are desperate to rise up the corporate ladder, confident and competitive, they see the value of leading from the front and craves more responsibility. It has also been said that whilst past generations were more money motivated, Millennials are more interested in the career prospects of a position and finding a cultural fit for themselves in a company. What challenge does this present? Although having high standards can bring many rewards, if recent graduate’s short-term expectations are too lofty, they can become disheartened if they are left for too long in lower positions. Today’s new starters are bombarded with ‘five-minute success stories’ that are portrayed in television shows such as The Apprentice, so it can often be hard for those fresh out of university to adjust to the reality of being placed in relatively junior roles. This can go some way to explain the frequent job-hopping. It’s no surprise senior managers fear that having spent time and money on developing the next generation of talent, individuals might leave before they have fulfilled their potential and repaid their value.

So how do HR professionals get the best out of them? The fact that Millennials change jobs so often implies that they cannot be simply coerced into succeeding in a role. They work best when there is a connection between them and a company. This means it is crucial for HR professionals to have a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that appeals to the drivers of the talent pool. This way, a graduate will be able to see the benefit of and reason for working at the company. Having a rigorous interview structure in place will give you a good sense of whether a candidate’s personality is a good fit for your team. This may involve having several stages to the process and the candidate meeting with multiple members of your team to establish a connection, and make them feel included in the company on a personal level.

Once you have recruited the right individual, it is obviously important to keep them motivated, and for Generation Y, it is important that genuine career prospects are offered. Obviously, new workers won’t expect a promotion right away, but they need to know that the opportunity is there for the future. It is imperative to have a fluid structure where new employees can interact with senior managers and receive feedback from the top. This is a two way process where recent graduates can input fresh ideas and understanding of technology to those further up the company, whilst also learning from communication with more experienced individuals.

Whereas Generation X was comfortable working under rigid structures, Generation Y operates best in roles which include variation and fresh challenges rather than process driven work. It is therefore important that both the training and the role itself provide new experiences in order to keep them motivated. In the past it was common for talent managers to employ the same style of management to deal with all employees. However, going forward it is important that they are flexible and tailor approaches to suit generational needs. If you can find graduate candidates who are a cultural match for your organisation, and offer them the chance to develop their skills in order to fulfil their ambitions, then Generation Y candidates are perfectly prepared to grow into the leaders of the future. However, if these opportunities are not offered, Millennials will have no hesitation in moving on quickly.

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