Has your company gone out of its way to avoid hiring Gen-Y employees because you’ve found it difficult to recruit, hire and train this cohort? You’re not alone. Before you write off this generation as entitled, unmotivated, selfish and lacking communication skills, consider that often their incompatibility in the workplace has had to do more with company policies and culture than any particular deficit of this generation. When companies realize what makes this generation tick and adjust their practices to accommodate this generation’s values and working habits, a more inspired and functional workplace will emerge.
Before exploring successful onboarding strategies for this group, it’s good to know about some of the generalizations associated with Gen-Y. When considered from a different angle, some of the very negative associations with this generation can actually be seen as assets to an organization. Some of the strengths of this cohort include:
- Technological Natives—the good news for organizations is that workers from this generation rarely bat an eye when confronted with new technology. As customer service continues to be delivered through more media channels and supported through technology, Gen-Y employees are well prepared to deal with this rapidly changing landscape. For the most part, this group has grown up with technology and speaks its language fluently. They are familiar with upgrades, new platforms, new applications, and new devices constantly disrupting their technological usage and so are less intimidated when these same disruptions happen in the workplace.
- Multi-Tasking—perhaps it was because so many of this group grew up playing video games that they can multi-task more efficiently on devices. This generation was always surrounded by cell-phones, computers, hand-helds and gaming consoles, often times using many of these devices simultaneously. These same skills make for great call center or live chat agents, as these employees can better handle multiple calls or open screens.
- Team Players—the educational environment for most Gen-Y students involved group learning. They are very familiar and comfortable working in group settings and often work best in teams. Organizations that understand this can channel the energy of a group of Gen-Y employees and sit back as they make a project their own, often delivering creative results.
Companies that spend time to understand Gen-Y can better prepare successful onboarding strategies. Recruiting, hiring and training this generation requires new ways of thinking. A common complaint we hear from businesses is the high attrition rate associated with Gen-Y. While some of this is attributable to the skills mismatch, often it is because companies haven’t changed their culture to accommodate this group. For successful partnerships to ensue, new ways of thinking and operating are required. Here are some proven strategies for successfully identifying and integrating Gen-Y employees into your company.
- Recruitment—the first place that most businesses stumble with Gen-Y is in their recruitment practices. Many companies continue to recruit using such “tried and true” techniques as job fairs, HR consultants or ads placed in industry magazines or websites. The problem is that this is not where you’ll likely find Gen-Y candidates. Social media is a better tool for reaching Gen-Y, and companies that have re-tooled their operations to be able to receive resumes and applications through social media are finding great success.
- Interviewing—by and large, the strengths of individuals from this generation won’t be recognized using old interview styles. When companies dispense with formal interviews and instead create a more casual setting asking “situational” type questions, interviewers will get a more accurate reading on the candidate. Obviously, if your corporate culture is more formal, then a more formal interview is appropriate. The style of the interview should match the style of the job being interviewed for.
- Training—as mentioned earlier, this generation is known for its multi-tasking abilities and shorter attention spans. Training programs should reflect how this generation has been taught. Shortening training programs, revising the role of the trainer to act more as a facilitator, offering peer-to-peer collaboration and more frequent assessments are all ways that training can be re-tooled for best learning outcomes.
Additional strategies that companies can employ to engage Gen-Y include continuous feedback and coaching. This cohort is accustomed to continuous feedback and expects the same in their work environment. Ongoing training is also key to engaging Gen-Y employees. When these employees feel invested in through continuous skill training, they are more loyal to the company. Additionally, providing flexible schedules and work-from-home options leads to greater retention.
If you’ve had past challenges when working with Gen-Y, take a look at how you approached your onboarding strategies. If you didn’t change your approach, now is a great time to assess how your recruit, hire and train. With a new mindset and new strategies your organization can benefit from this fearless, talented and inspired generation.
By Tamara Irminger Underwood