The Advancing Leadership Blog

How to Attract and Keep Gen Y Employees

Finding committed, hard-working individuals is a challenge that businesses face with every generation. Strong dedicated employees build the foundation of successful companies so it is very important that businesses attract and keep the right kind of workers. When it comes to excellent employees, our generation, Gen Y is no different than previous generations – there are valuable individuals as well as those who you would prefer not to hire. However, there is a significant difference in what we respond to and value in the workplace. As a follow-up to my blog post I am Gen Y, which described the who/what/when/where and whys of the millenials, this post will outline the how. How, that is, to attract and keep Gen Y on your side.

As baby boomers move closer to retirement, it is essential that businesses make attracting the up-and-coming Gen Ys a priority. Companies cannot use the same techniques as they used in the past to obtain and retain good employees. Changes in society have shaped Gen Y’s values and as a result, we demand a unique set of workplace dynamics.

Team atmosphere & a common vision

We are attracted to team-driven work places. Throughout our childhood and adolescent years, cooperation and teamwork have been a central focus. The encouragement of academic collaboration and group sports has strengthened our value of cooperation while social media platforms have given us an even greater sense of community and interconnectedness.

Uniting your workforce with a strong central vision may be the key to creating a team-oriented business. Meister and Willyerd, co-authors of the award-winning book The 2020 Workplace, even predict that “companies will hire entire teams” as the importance of teamwork rises in the workplace. Gen Ys may be lacking corporate experience, but we are curious to know all about the business we are working for. We want to know how our contributions will help reach the ultimate goals. By informing all areas of your workforce about company objectives, achievements and obstacles, younger Gen Y employees will feel like a beneficial member of the team.

Additionally, it’s important to create a tight-knit working community where employees can exchange ideas and socialize in a non-threatening environment. Taking advantage of online social mediums is a popular and time-effective tool for creating this setting. Fortune 500 companies like IBM and Google have designed successful internal social media systems that promote positive workplace interactions. For more information, Robin Fray Cary, Co-Founder and CEO at Social Media Today, provides an in-depth look at the use of employee social media practices in her paper, The Corporate Newsletter Goes Social.

Flexibility and lifestyle

In our personal and professional lives we require a certain amount of flexibility. This stems from our value of life experience and quality of life over financial success. Gen Ys most likely have exaggerated financial goals in mind; however, the distinction arises when we compare our opportunity cost of life experience to our opportunity cost of potential income. Gustavo Grodnitzy, TEC Speaker notes that “Gen Y looks for flexible hours and a corporate culture that understands its desire for a ‘blended life’” (Ready or Not, Here They Come!) We desire a lifestyle where work, play and health intertwine in a harmonious balance.

There are many ways that companies can provide their employees with flexibility. For starters, offering flex days is a common workplace reality. Working from home, lenient work schedules and generous vacation time are a few other options for companies to consider.

Another way to entice employees and create happy Gen Ys is by encouraging a healthy, socially responsible lifestyle. Benefits might include transit fee reimbursement, a monthly gym membership or massage therapy benefits. A flexible lifestyle with added perks may be your ticket to keeping high-performing Gen Ys without having to fork out the big bucks.

Personalization and customization

We value personalization and expect to be recognized as individuals. This perspective can be attributed to the digital age, which has resulted in the individualization of business marketing strategies, online social interactions and much more.

Personalization should be emphasized in the workplace just as companies stress its importance when dealing with clients and customers. As Meister and Willyerd discuss in The 2020 Workplace, “Crafting an employee relationship that meets the needs of every generation at each life stage while providing them with the ability to attain their personal career goals will require organizations to use mass customization techniques usually reserved for consumers.” Tailoring the career paths and professional development of your employees should lead to greater employee satisfaction and retention.

As Gen Ys flood into the corporate world, businesses need to be aware of our distinctive values in the workplace. Providing workers with a team-driven atmosphere, flexibility and a personalized career path are just a few ways that will help businesses attract our generation. By recognizing these values, companies will be able to adapt their workplaces for current and future workers. Generation Y will make up the majority of the workforce in the upcoming years so it’s critical for companies to be thinking ahead and slowly implementing a shift in their workplace dynamics.

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