Generation Y And Engagement

Fri, 26 Apr 2013
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Having recently sponsored a table at The Exec Grapevine HR and Talent Management Conference the Impact HR team were fortunate enough to hear from a number of inspirational speakers within the HR teams of leading Media, FMCG, Retail and Finance brands. A key highlight for me was the ever topical debate surrounding the motivations of the Millennial Generation.  Often cited as disloyal, overly demanding and restless, the press surrounding the demographic cohort following Generation X is generally rather negative… This event, combined with the current Media storm surrounding Paris Brown and her short-lived career as the ‘Youth Crime Tsar’ for Kent Police has inspired me to jump on the blogging bandwagon and wade into the ‘engaging Gen Y’ debate…

Often Classified as employees who are 33 years of age and under, Forbes has claimed that Gen Y will make up 75% of the Global workforce by 2025. As a member of Gen Y (by this definition) and as someone who is involved in recruiting future talent my role is to help employers in the process of finding and engaging with promising young talent. So what are the key traits of this generation, how do we go about engaging them and what are the implications for the recruitment process?

A common question mark around developing millennial is around their loyalty. Although disloyalty is often quoted as a key trait of this generation, research actually shows the contrary… Kenexa published research in 2011 that found Gen Y to be the most excited about their work, with the highest levels of company satisfaction.  A key motivator that was highlighted was an interest in seeing a positive societal impact from the work that they do as well as a high notion of personal responsibility. So when do Gen Y show loyalty? After extensive research, Edelman found that 86% of Gen Y will show loyalty if the company they work for represents quality products and services, authenticity, social purpose and moral integrity. Are these the traits of a disengaged population?

This research also has several implications for the recruitment process. As we have learnt from Paris Brown’s story, the attraction process has started looking earlier and earlier into candidate’s lives and in some cases will also involve delving into their Social Media presence.  One of the most significant differences between Gen Y and previous generations is that they have grown up with the internet and social networking. If you grow up on social networks you are used to putting your opinion out there and having it judged by peers – this has inevitably created a different set of expectations.  Candidates are more highly networked and have greater exposure to information across the world, they can contribute and be judged and therefore value and want continuous feedback more and more. Regular communication throughout the recruitment process is therefore key in attracting and engaging this generation.

Hiring the right talent for your business is essential but developing and retaining future talent is the key. Engaging Gen Y is all about fostering the potential of future talent. As we can see from Paris Browns story, a part of being young is about making mistakes and learning from those. In order for companies to engage with this generation they need to encourage the new perspectives they bring in an ever changing economy rather than viewing them as an irreverent force of change….  Whether or not you agree with their approach or appreciate their attitudes, Generation Y will one day be the leaders of some of the largest organisations in the world and now is the time to develop an engage with them.