Generation Y (Gen Y) are under 30 years old, typically ambitious and frequently criticised for having a “diva-like” approach to job hunting — expecting first jobs to almost fall into their laps and for the financial rewards to be high from the outset.

While this is something of a generalisation about people born after 1980, Gen Y have indeed developed a different outlook and approach to work and life in general. With this new age upon us, the reality for many organisations is that they need to attract, recruit and retain Gen Y to be successful in future.

The challenge is clear. Employers need to fully understand what makes Gen Y individuals tick to successfully create suitable talent attraction, development and retention strategies, enabling them to create sustainable competitive advantage.

One clear behavioural trend among members of Gen Y is that they are not afraid to move from employer to employer — sometimes after little more than a year — to gain as much experience as they can, as quickly as they can.


Attracting and retaining the best talent

Competition is fierce among talent-seeking employers and between ambitious Gen Y individuals looking to secure attractive job opportunities. Add in the steady increase in student numbers today and the result is more Gen Ys than ever currently looking for work.

In many sectors, the recruitment market has begun to move from being employer-driven and candidate-rich to being candidate-poor and applicant-driven. With talent attraction and retention becoming more of a challenge, it is increasingly important for employers to understand and cater to job-transient Gen Y candidates in order to build the foundations for a successful recruitment and retention strategy.

The need to understand Gen Y was clearly emphasised in a recent survey conducted by recruitment specialist Reed. Results showed that 52 per cent of employees said they were unhappy with benefits packages offered by their firms and almost one in seven said that benefits would play a big part in influencing their next job decision.

Employers were also polled and results worryingly showed that the answers given by the Gen Y respondents completely contradicted those of the employers — 83 per cent believed their employees were happy with the benefits they received.

In addition to this stark difference, the research also showed that Gen Y are not just motivated by money and benefits packages; they also expect employers to offer a structured career path with a firm emphasis on training and development, regardless of how long they intend to stay with an organisation.

Some 31 per cent of those polled wanted to enrol in professional courses and 28 per cent wanted to take accredited courses, while 21 per cent wanted to take in-house courses. The remainder sought one-to-one tuition or other forms of training, such as e-learning.

Continual professional development seems to be as important as money and benefits, making it possible for smaller organisations to compete effectively with major firms for talent by picking their battlegrounds carefully.

Recognition — last but not least

The final element in a comprehensive resourcing strategy to secure and maintain top Gen Y talent is recognition.

An employer with a reputation for recognising and rewarding the achievements of its employees will stand a better chance of attracting and keeping hold of Gen Y, given this group’s motivations and aspirations.

In a Gen Y world made up of ambitious and talented individuals, employers need to recognise that resourcing and retention strategies for these future leaders need to reflect their unique make-up.

With a large proportion of hiring managers being Gen X-ers and baby boomers, the successful companies of tomorrow will be those that can understand and embrace this new era of workers.