Saturday, April 26, 2008

What Millennial Works Want: How to Attract and Retain Generation Y Workers

Robert Half International and Yahoo HotJobs recently published a study about the impact on generation Y (those born between 1979-1999) on the workplace. They surveyed over 1000 21-28 year olds who are employed full-time or part-time and have college degrees, or are currently attending college.
The findings both confirm and challenge some of the myths perpetuated by the media on the work habits of this generation. Here’s a link to the full report, along with some leadership implications:

Myths and Realities

Myth: Generation Y lives in the moment and would rather play than work
Fact: One-third of respondents were concerned about finding/keeping a job, supporting themselves and their families, and “saving enough” money.

Myth: Generation Y expects instant gratification.
Fact: They’re focused on the future and worried about funding their retirement.

Myth: This generation slacks off at work to take care of personal matters.
Fact: 73% worry about balancing professional and personal obligations.

Myth: Gen Y employees have a sense of entitlement and don’t want to “pay their dues”.
Fact: They expect to pay their dues in different ways

Leadership implications

When asked, “How would you describe your dream boss”, the responses were as follows:
Good management skills
Pleasant and easy to get along with
Understanding and caring
Flexible and open-minded
Respects/values/appreciates employees
Good communication skills

In essence, being a good leader to generation Y means being a good leader – period. But for Millennials, having a good boss is particularly important. This is a group that has high expectations for authority figures and craves continual feedback and reinforcement.

Here are some other management skills that may help you bring out the best performance in your Gen Y staff:

Give them their “scores”
Recent graduates are accustomed to receiving regular feedback in the form of test scores and grades and appreciate knowing where they stand. Don’t wait for the annual performance review to provide feedback – give “spot reviews” as tasks and projects are completed. Immediate input on their performance and progress will help motivate these team members.

Keep the door open, but don’t be a doormat.
This group appreciates a friendly, fair-minded manager who dispenses advice, provides support and then gives them space to do their jobs in their own way. But they aren’t looking for pushovers: They want their supervisors to exercise clear authority.

Give it to them straight.
This was not a “children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard” generation. As youngsters, they likely questioned things and received fairly open responses. Subsequently, Millennials expect honesty and candor from their managers.

Walk the talk.
Similarly, this group wants companies to act true to their values. They are skeptical of corporate pronouncements unless they are backed up with clear action.

See them as people, not just employees
Like all professionals, these workers want supportive managers. When talking with Gen Y staff members, acknowledge that they have lives and concerns outside of work, and help them balance work and personal obligations.

Lend them your ears.
They seek the validation that comes from being heard. This does not mean that you have to act upon their every suggestion, but you can acknowledge their ideas and encourage them to approach you with their thoughts.


Tom Magness said...

Great points, Dan. Since we are all fighting to hire these Gen Y workers, we'd do well to keep these points in mind. Doing so might prevent another belief about Gen Y, that they move frequently and are not loyal to the organization. If we demonstrate good leadership and the characteristics you describe, they'll stick around a lot longer!

Chris Morgan said...

I think all of the items you include are the attributes of any good leader (of Gen X or Gen Y). Being able to recognise the need to adapt your style of course requires emotional intelligence....there's the rub!