By Kenny Randle
As the second largest generation, following Baby Boomers, Generation Y is on its way to reshaping the workforce. Also known as the Millennials or Echo Boomers, Generation Y includes nearly 70 million 20-somethings and younger born between 1980 and 2000. They are the most technologically savvy of all the generations and many are also celebrated for their young entrepreneurial spirit. This generation wants it all – a high-paying job with rapid career growth, flexibility and lots of fun. They are socially conscious and look for companies that value them. Generation Y is also notorious for having a high employee turnover rate, particularly if their job does not provide a sense of fulfillment. Despite the current economy, a July 2009 study conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP reported 63 percent of executives surveyed predicted an increase or significant increase in turnover among Generation Y workers after the recession ends.
Generation Y workers have a desire to better manage their personal and work lives than their predecessors. Since this younger workforce was born into technology and enjoys multi-tasking with smart phones and the Internet, many prefer to work remotely. To accommodate this, a growing number of employers have adopted telecommuting or flex-time policies.
In a recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 91 percent of human resources professionals believed the implementation of formal flexible work arrangements had a positive impact on employee morale. In addition, 89 percent reported employee retention has been positively affected by the implementation of flexible work arrangements.
“Workplace flexibility and commitment to work-life balance are not trends, they are now highly sought-after benefits by many employees,” said Katie G. Harvey, president and CEO for KGBTexas Public Relations and Advertising. “We offer a half-day Friday work schedule where employees are permitted to work a half-day every other Friday. It is extremely popular among employees; however, an important key to ensuring the success of such an arrangement is providing employees with written guidelines and policies to follow.”
When it comes to employee retention, Generation Y wants to feel appreciated for their efforts. Whether from a supervisor, peers or the entire organization, formal and informal recognition can go a long way toward making these employees feel valued.
“Management makes an effort to acknowledge accomplishments on a timely basis, such as in weekly staff meetings or via an e-mail to the team,” said Harvey. “It is important to show staff members how their work is contributing to the company’s and our clients’ overall success.”
Corporate-sponsored volunteering opportunities are more likely to attract the attention of Generation Y, which has been cited as having one of the highest volunteer rates. While they are committed to making a difference, they also view volunteering as a way to enhance their skills. According to the Deloitte 2007 Volunteer IMPACT survey, 62 percent of the Generation Y respondents reported they would prefer to work for companies that give them opportunities to contribute their skills to nonprofit organizations.
While the younger workforce thrives on using technology, personal communication is still important. Generation Y wants to feel comfortable approaching their supervisors and not meet with resistance when asking questions or offering suggestions. They also want to help shape company culture and policies. Companies that support open door communication may find happier employees who want to stay longer.
Training and Development
Generation Y is considered the most educated of all generations and enjoys challenges. While classroom and online training programs can help provide the opportunity to learn new skills, mentoring also offers additional learning at no cost to the employer. Gaining valuable insight from seasoned workers may spark the interest of younger employees who are looking for potential career paths within the organization.
“As a way to demonstrate to employees we are supportive and care about their future with the company, we have implemented a quarterly employee retreat during which the entire team participates in training and team-building activities,” said Harvey. “Many innovative ideas have surfaced as a result of our retreat activities and we have found it helps employees have a better understanding of the role each one of them plays in the success of the organization.”
Kenny Randle is a regional vice president for Administaff
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