Guest post by Charlie Caruso
According to the Population Institute, by 2030 over 50 percent of the world’s population will be under 30; therefore engaging today’s emerging youth has become the 21st Century imperative for employers.
The global community is facing an unprecedented demand for effective succession strategies; as the Baby Boomers, the largest generation ever to transition into retirement are searching for their replacements.
The survival of so many organisations around the world depends on the outcome of these succession plans, and growing legions of employers have accepted that their recruitment challenge is not only to replace, but to re-position for the future.
The business models that Baby Boomers and their predecessors relied upon when building their empires, are today breaking down. Thus the new business mandate centres on attracting and retaining today’s innovative minds to ensure organisations not only survive, but thrive in these increasingly turbulent times.
Despite the mounting pressure to engage and connect with younger generations, there is a persistent and growing divergence between the perceptions and the reality of the ambitious, impatient and emerging force that is Generation Y.
For the global business community, it has never been as important nor as difficult, to attract the attention of an emerging workforce.
In my book, Understanding Y, my co-authors and I have explored the context behind why it is so difficult to attract Gen Y’s brightest stars. My co-contributors and I have questioned common stereotypes and delved deeper into the psyche and drivers behind this enigmatic generation.
Unlike their predecessors, Millennials know what they want and are less likely to compromise, not only in their career, but in their lives. Actually forget careers, Gen Y don’t want them! They want experiences they can learn from, a deeper fulfilment. This is a new and important distinction.
So how do organisations hook the Y Gen?
In my experience, the answer to this question has a lot less do with Gen Y, and a lot more to do with the organisation trying to attract and retain them. Based on the research collected for Understanding Y, I believe there are three keys to successfully attracting the Millennials and giving them a reason to stay;
1. Review organisational culture and ensure it’s healthy.
2. Analyse current internal innovation climate.
3. Keep abreast of industry trends, industry disruption and try to introduce it to the organisation.
‘That didn’t help me!’ ‘How does a bit of research help me attract Gen Y?’ ‘Whaaaat?’
For many it’s surprising to discover the key to successfully engaging the Gen Y workforce is honestly as simple as offering them an opportunity to work in an innovative, forward thinking and progressive working environment. Let me explain why.
If you were to drop in the following terminology into your next job advertisement or interview with a prospective Gen Y, I would almost guarantee that you will attract their attention. Gen Y’s eyes will light up if they hear that the following concepts are being implemented within your organisation;
- Activity-based working environments
- Mentorships / coaching opportunities
- Flexible working hours
- Innovative culture / innovation
- Social media friendly
- Formalised learning
- Outcome-based performance assessments / KPIs
The catch is if you intend to use these terms as Gen Y bait, it won’t work. If you’re baiting Gen Y, they will be the first ones to smell something fishy – so don’t use these terms unless you can back them up with evidence they are in practice at your organisation (or at the very least, that your organisation is committed to introducing them).
Yet this only works if the senior management have genuinely committed themselves to embracing change and researching the innovative and disruptive new models and have worked out what and how they can apply them to the organisation.
Remember, Gen Y don’t need baiting – if that’s your intention #yourdoingitwrong. Gen Y will flock to you, providing your organisation is able to offer them the kind of working environment they crave.
If organisations embrace innovation and the ‘new way’ of business – it won’t take long before you land on their radar, and their radar is always on! Gen Y are continually looking for new opportunities, new challenges, new excitement – but will only take them if they are currently unfulfilled and see no future in their current organisation.
If they are happy, they will most likely pass any new and exciting opportunities onto their friends. According to Pew Research, Millennials are the most technologically connected in history but the least trusting, and as stated by Understanding Y’s co-authors Stacey Taylor and Scott Broome from Melbourne-based Gen Y PR firm Blacksixteen, Gen Y refer to their online social networks for guidance and support – they prefer word-of-mouth, making it much harder to penetrate their encoded trust-walls.
As Gen Y is the most connected generation to date, they will be acutely aware if the grass is greener on someone else’s pastures. If this is the case, you can bet they’ve already Google Earthed its location, LinkedIned with the pasture owner and are in the process of setting the GPS coordinates needed to get there!
The secret for organisations going forward is as simple as studying their own backyards. Does your grass need a good injection of nutrients? Perhaps a new landscape? Is it likely to remain green in future droughts? Is it prone to rot? Is it greener than your competitors?
The ultimate secret to attracting and retaining Gen Y is as simple as taking a good look around your own backyard – prepare a fertile foundation for innovation to flourish and wait for the millennial herd to come grazing!
Charlie Caruso is the editor of Understanding Y #andYyoushould (Wiley). She is a Gen Y entrepreneur and the CEO of PuggleFM, an online radio and podcasting station for parents and children.