Who are Gen Y’s?
Generation Y are the 18-28 year olds who’ve grown up with new technology, a booming economy, high levels of debt, and increased university education. Many of them will have degrees, all of them will be on Facebook and most of them will know how to use a computer better than anyone else in your office. They’ve emerged into the world of work capable and with a lot of drive, although a lot of them won’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They struggle with independence, experience difficulty getting onto the housing ladder and complain that most of their money goes on living costs like rent and utility bills. Brand conscious however, they know what they want and they go out and get it, be it the latest iPod or some jeans from Diesel.
How do you engage with this generation? They think fast, they’re fickle but they have the skills your company needs to bring it into the 21st century. Attracting them may be easier than you think – in this degree-saturated market a lot of generation Y struggle to find their first job. They find it increasingly difficult to compete against each other, especially if they don’t have a set career path in mind. Gone are the days when you studied law and became a lawyer – you now study media or business and do “something” afterwards. If you’re offering entry-level jobs to graduates or even better, fast-track graduate schemes, you’ll be inundated with applications.
Keeping generation Y in their jobs is another matter entirely. They soon realise that work experience is all-important, and a year with your company may give them the advantage they need to get a job somewhere else. If your office is dull, if you don’t utilise the latest technology, if you don’t offer any perks, they will find something better elsewhere. Imagine an employee who uses a new computer at home with all the latest software, and then they come to work and have to use a slow, clunky system because you haven’t invested in technology? What if they suggest an upgrade but you can’t justify the expenditure? There’s no better way to frustrate the younger generation than to not give them the tools they know how to use.
Getting the Salary Right
Generation Y also need the right salary to keep them in a role. They might be willing to take an entry-level salary when they first join your company – after all, they need a job – but what happens after a year when they only get your usual small increase, just like all your other employees? Generation Y find it hard to get their own house or flat because rent and mortgages are so expensive, but having been to university they crave independence. Graduates expect graduate salaries too – they’ve got all that student debt to pay back after all. If your salaries aren’t in line with expectations, younger employees will eventually start to look elsewhere.
With the loss of decent pension schemes and the rise in redundancies, a job is no longer for life. Generation Y don’t expect to stay in one company for their career – they see a career as something they forge at different places. If you can engage young employees you can utilise their skills, so listen, reward and reap the benefits.