4 September 2012
by Vivian Giang
Gen Y workers will outnumber any other generation within a few years. Photo: Joe Wigdahl
You can call them impatient, demanding and entitled, but if you don’t offer incentives to retain young workers, someone else will.
Leslie Kwoh at The Wall Street Journal reports that more companies are “jumping through hoops to accommodate [Gen Y’s] demands for faster promotions, greater responsibilities and more flexible work schedules.”
Because Gen Y workers will outnumber any other generation within a few years. By 2020, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that those born roughly in the 1980s and 1990s will make up 40 per cent of the workforce.
The bottom line is that baby boomers are retiring, and Gen Y and millennials will be working for the next several decades. Furthermore, they have the skills needed in the future workplace — tech-savviness and the ability to innovate — and they’re more racially diverse than any generation before, which means they’ll be able to relate to different customs and cultures more quickly.
The greatest risk is that these young hires aren’t afraid to leave their jobs, despite limited employment opportunities.
So how do you keep younger workers interested?
Kwoh says companies have to think differently. For example, instead of waiting to give feedback during quarterly reviews, offer reviews more frequently. Ocean Spray Cranberries gives employees their feedback right after presentations.
Young workers don’t want to deal with stringent hieracrchy or feeling like they’re performing mindless tasks all day.
When Chegg, an online textbook service, experienced high turnover in their younger employees a few years ago, they began conducting exit interviews to understand why these talents were leaving. They discovered that “too much bureaucracy, not enough communication” and inflexible work schedules were pushing younger workers out the door.
Since then, the company has allowed for more hands-on exposure on projects and introduced an unlimited paid vacation policy. These changes have resulted in the company’s turnover rate for younger workers to decrease by 50 per cent.
“If they don’t feel like they’re making a contribution to a company overall quickly, they don’t stay,” Chief Executive Dan Rosensweig tells Kwoh. “If you provide them with the right environment, they’ll work forever, around the clock.”
Basically, to keep your young workers, companies need to start thinking about lifestyle rather than salary, and offering these young hires a job that makes them feel like they’re making a difference in the world.