MANY employers want to understand more about Generation Y (Gen Y) in the workplace.

Who are they and what are their attitudes towards work?

Is it difficult to communicate with them?

What are the tips to recruiting and retaining the younger generation successfully?

Who they are

Gen Y represents those born between 1982 and 2000, immediately after Generation X (1965 to 1981).

They are the largest generation since the baby boomers (1946 to 1964).

Their oldest members have not even hit 30 yet and are embarking on career decisions.

Gen Y has its own set of values, view of authority and ideal work environment.

Known for better education and open-mindedness, they are the hottest commodities in the current job market. Employers like their energy, drive and skills.

They are young, smart, able to grasp new concepts quickly and are used to adapting to different situations.

However, these young employees are somewhat impatient, mobile and have not seen the cold wind in the job market.

Unlike baby boomers who place higher value on career and stability, Gen Y workers have different priorities.

They value things other than an office with a harbour view, impressive job titles and high salaries.

Gen Y workers have high expectations of themselves and their employers. They aim to work faster and better than others, and they want fair and direct managers who are highly engaged in their professional development.

They also seek creative challenges and view colleagues as vast and useful resources from whom to gain knowledge.

How they communicate

The communication style of Gen Y is somewhat different from previous generations.

Gen Y-ers like freedom, place importance on diverse experiences and are socially driven.

If you have a hidden agenda or are not open with your communication, these young people will react negatively and distance themselves from you.

In some surveys, Gen Y workers have been labelled as demanding and poor communicators. They are more difficult to deal with and have less respect for seniority.

In their mind, the boss is not always right. Gen Y employees want their suggestions to be heard by their employers.

Gen Y workers are comfortable with constant feedback and recognition from others and feel lost if communication from their employers is irregular.

Reviews should be held quarterly to ensure that expectations are being met by both parties.

As Gen Y employees come of age under the influence of the Internet, their expectation of online communication is higher than ever.

While older generations may expect a phone call or a face-to-face meeting on important topics, the younger generation prefers e-mail communication.

The training format for Gen Y tends to be different as well, as these employees are unlikely to pay attention in full-day sessions.

Training should be available in different interactive platforms and preferably in smaller groups.

Use humour and create fun learning environments.

The training modules should also be downloadable to their computers or PDAs so that Gen Y-ers can study the details later.

How to keep them

To attract and keep Gen Y workers, the human resource department needs to take a different approach.

Gen Y candidates accept a job offer because they want to work with a particular organisation, not because they have to.

They look for an organisation where they can create good relationships.

Therefore, your organisation must have social flair, offering internal events and team-building activities to appeal to this group.

Gen Y employees are less likely to respond to the traditional type of command-and-control style. In fact, they are more receptive to mentorship programmes.

So it is more effective to attract and mentor them through open communication in the workplace.

Here are 10 tips on recruiting Gen Y successfully:

1. Move fast during the recruitment process. Their world moves fast and so does the job market.

2. Present the challenging aspects of the job as they are not afraid to work hard.

3. View the interview process from the candidate's perspective.

4. Be focused, timely and polite.

5. Invest in employment branding and be known as a great employer.

6. Use peer interviews.

7. Invest in line managers' interviewing and hiring skills.

8. Benchmark salaries in your sector and pay accordingly.

9. Build a relationship with your recruitment firm.

10. If you are big enough, maintain "watching briefs" and hire when good people come along - you will need them sooner than you think.

To retain Gen Y employees, it is important to show your appreciation for their individuality and allow them to participate in the decision-making process.

Finally, before creating your recruitment and retention plans, it is crucial to understand Gen Y workers and find out what makes them tick. After all, they are your future.