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Attracting and Retaining Generation Y

Laurie Padua

To review the original article click here 8th Aug 2017

“The rise and rise of social media and mobile app means candidates have higher expectations. They demand attention, information and conversation immediately and recruiters have to respond in turn. It means virtualisation has become the future of candidate engagement. Everything has to be orientated to making processes simpler for applicants, from basic aspects such as LinkedIn sync to make application processes more seamless to using email and text message technology to confirm successful applicants that need to be progresses by the candidate.”

What are Generation Y looking for in a company when applying for a job?
Faye Lewis Head of Marketing at Montreal Associates, says, “By 2020 it’s estimated that 40 per cent of the total working population will be millennials  – and they exhibit a different sort of professional values than those of their Generation X successors.” This means that understanding what drives them is key for retention and employee satisfaction. While there are several myths surrounding what Gen Y expect from their careers, the defining factor is that millennials want a job that will accommodate their values.”

“Millennials are a relationship-orientated generation that need mutual respect. According to a recent survey by Forbes, 74 per cent of millennial workers want flexible work schedules and 88 per cent want ‘work-life’ integration with flexible working hours permitting them to fit in their outside work duties. Growing up during economic crisis means they’ve had the chance to think about what matters and staying in a job where they feel unable to reach their potential is something millennials are reluctant to do. Generation Y want to feel valued and it’s crucial businesses accommodate their desire for leadership, growth and a respect for their values if they want loyalty.”

"The exact reason why more organisations haven’t invested in greater mobile optimisation isn’t crystal clear."

Lee Biggins founder and managing director of CV-library, reveals, “Our research tells us that Gen Y employees are extremely ambitious, with 91.4 per cent stating that career progression is important to them at work. For businesses, this attitude can mean wonders for productivity, but can also ring alarm bells if they aren’t fulfilling their workers’ needs, with millenials not being afraid to look for work elsewhere if they don’t feel as if there are developing in their role.”

“What’s more, it’s clear that rewards and money are clearly in the mind for this generation, with nearly three quarters of millenials stating that they value workplace perks, and a further 71.4 per cent claiming that their salary is more important to them than their job title. That said, we also found that 80.1 per cent would take a pay cut to secure their dream job – so as long as you’re offering the right opportunities and the right packages, you should stand in good stead for attracting the best candidates to your roles.”

What are the current challenges when it comes to attracting Generation Y candidates?
Nikki Alexander, sales director UK at JXT, comments, “Fundamentally, millenials seek stepping stone opportunities for growth. Contrary to biased perceptions, they do not single out bean bags and free beers as important features of a fun, informal working place. The key differentiator millenials show compared with their predecessors is a high need to know they can learn, grow and expand their career paths.”

“The challenge is to understand their motivations and the ones that don’t do the job and the delicate balance between the two. While they may differ from a recruiting and retention standpoint, millenials primarily focus on growth opportunities great managers and jobs utilising their talents and interests. Nailing this critical point will most likely stack the cards on your side in keeping these millennial talents from continually pursuing the next best thing elsewhere.”

What strategies have worked for your company when attracting Generation Y?Peter Russell, chairman of Russell Taylor Group, says, “As chairman, born in the good old 50’s, I cofounded Russell Taylor with my generation Y son and have built an incredible technical, recruitment company of loyal, engaged, high performing Generation Ys. In fact, more than 80 per cent of our 70-plus team are less than half my age!”

“No one knew my son better than I, with his entrepreneurial drive making it impossible for him to survive in most working environments, so we created a culture that was attractive to like-minded spirits. In our vibrant and dynamic culture, our speedy but robust selection process is focused on selecting those with high performing potential who could be fun to work with. They turn up for interview with the knowledge that Russell Taylor operates a non-corporate environment where a team culture thrives. There are no hierarchies or boundaries and delivery of outstanding services is paramount. They accept the job offer in full recognition that their career development will match their strengths they will not be micro-managed and that, hard work is matched with fun. And there their journey begins…”

How can companies retain Generation Y candidates?
David Thomas, procurement an supply chain consultant at IntaPeople, explains, “Unlike their parents Generation Y candidates will potentially have twenty plus roles across their lifetime. With social media platforms and technological developments making it easy for candidates to learn about new opportunities, staff retention should be a key focus for any company, for all of their employees, not just Generation Y.”

“Fundamentally Generation Y have the same reason for leaving as anyone; lack of recognition, development, progression or more money etc. but I feel the way to retain Generation Y candidates are with the office environment and the company ethos. These people are looking for relaxed working environments with casual dress codes, ping pong tables and chill out areas, think Google. Innocent Drinks in the UK do this very well and more and more companies are following suit, the ones that don’t will suffer.”

What role is technology playing when it comes to attracting and retaining Generation Y?
Amanda Davies, Managing Director of ISV Software Ltd, states, “The quick answer is that technology is playing a huge role. Career sites and job boards must be mobile friendly, pretty much all generations are mobile but Gen Y even more so. They want to search on the go. The application process must be straightforward, ideally just a few clicks. Video enhances attraction since it brings the role to life. Candidates can visualise what they’re signing up for.”

“Online assessments are now the norm for screening. In a competitive market recruiters need to know candidates have the right skills and attitude the hit the ground running, and candidates expect some form of registration process. Keep assessment relevant and succinct at the attraction phase, too many and a clunky application process are a real turn off. Play to the strengths and preference of your audience.”

Laurie Padua, Director of Technology and Operations Consulting, Alexander Mann Solutions, adds, “A recent global survey conducted by Think with Google reported that over 80 per cent of under 25s use their smartphones to go online as often as computers.  With this in mind it is crucial that recruiters and hiring managers ensure that their organisations are on top of mobile recruitment, particularly when targeting this demographic. The exact reason why more organisations haven’t invested in greater mobile optimisation isn’t crystal clear – perhaps it falls down to lack or resources, experience or understanding – but what is certain is that if a business wants to remain competitive in its talent attraction it will need to integrate mobile-apply in its recruitment processes.”

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“Small changes in the user experience can make a big difference, having simple tick boxes and scrolling choices on a page or the option to submit Google Documents, for example, can make for an effortless journey. Investing in the development of an effective candidate mobile experience is a great step in a world where individuals are increasingly seeking information on the go. But we now need to see more companies dedicating resources to making the application stage mobile friendly, or risk missing out on engaging with the digital-native generation. ”

Charles Hipps, CEO of WCN, reveals, “With the race for hiring talent capable of being future leaders, intensifying, recruiters are feeling the pressure to increase velocity and win the hearts and minds of qualified candidates sooner. The recruiting and hiring process is now one that doesn’t stop when a candidate is offered a job – it’s a fluid process centred on conversation, curiosity and research long before a job opening becomes available.”

Should companies be changing their attraction and retention strategies for Generation Y?

Simon Briffa, internal talent manager at Sellick Partnership, says, “Generational changes in lifestyle and expectation of a healthy work/life balance have led to a shift in what candidates search for when looking for their next role. Candidates are no longer seeking the stereotypical ‘9-5’ job and are instead interested in developing their careers, often considering a job move as a long-term investment. As a result, companies are now having to go the extra mile to attract and retain the best talent by offering tailored attraction and retention methods rather than a –one-size-fits-all’ strategy.

“The biggest mistake many employers make it leaving employees out of the decision-making process. Employers need to work with staff to ensure they understand what they want and target benefits to different segments of their workforce. In order to do this, employers should adapt their attraction and retention strategy to include engagement surveys, staff forums and exit interviews to get to know their workforce better. This will not only save money in the long-term, but will also give companies a corrective edge when attracting and retaining Generation Y candidates.”

Hannah McDonald, internal recruitment manager at Nicholl Curtin, adds, “It is easy to think that Generation Y needs an alternative attraction and retention strategy. It is important however to focus on the individual, after all you need to appeal to a broad range of people to encourage diversity, retention can also be very personal. Don’t fall into the trap that everyone is the same!”

“Millennials want the same as everyone has always wanted from an employer, to be paid fairly, to be valued personally, inspired by the company and to be developed further. I think that the biggest difference is that they are used to having a huge amount of information at their fingertips, they have been brought up to shop around in the same way that people use comparison websites.”

“To reach millenials therefore it is important to give a full picture of life in your business, give testimonials or videos of existing employees and have some external validation like awards or review websites. To retain them keep a close eye on your competitors, make sure you offer something special and focus on the individual relationship with their manager.”

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