Authenticity or Attrition: Engaging Your Gen Y Workers

When we think of Gen Y, we think of bright-eyed bushy tailed 22-year olds, fresh from university or college. They’re motivated, energized and ready to make their mark.

But far from leveraging their enthusiasm, many organizations struggle to engage their Gen Y workers resulting in high rates of depression over work within this cohort (a recent study by Vision Critical put the number at half.)

The question for HR professionals is ‘What is it about Gen Y’s that make them such a challenge and what can we do to engage them?’

Stephen Shedletzky, a master class speaker on Generation Y, shed some light on the issue during a recent interview with HR on-Demand.

“Gen Ys only do work that motivates them which is why you see more small companies thriving thanks to their gen Y workers, and larger companies having issues because the roles they’re offering aren’t in line with what the grads they’ve recruited want to do. If they don’t get what they need in terms of meaningful work, they’re prepared to walk away and the previous generations didn’t do that.”

According to Stephen, many organizations also have trouble managing the curiosity of their Gen Y workers.

“Gen Y should really be called Gen WHY. They’re always asking why are you doing this? Why is this process valuable? This gets sticky when you have a 22-year old employee questioning a veteran supervisor. It’s common for employers to lose their Gen Y worker as soon as they come up with their first big idea and are shut down.”

On the upside, Stephen is quick to point out specific steps organizations can take to engage their Gen Y workers that will also boost employee engagement across the board:

Mentoring:
Mentoring relationships between Gen Ys and experienced Boomers are particularly effective in engaging multi-generation workplaces with the added benefit of facilitating meaningful knowledge transfer from the mature employee to other levels of the organisation.

Cross-sharing:
This is particularly useful for organisations that recruit graduates in waves. Allowing new graduates to learn and explore together will cut down on attrition, strengthen teams and boost engagement.

Consistency:
Ensure that what new grads are being recruited on is validated at the team level. HR Strategies must be communicated and supported by business units.

Get real:
Evidence of shared commitment and transparency is huge for this demographic. This is the generation who would rather read a product review on a blog post than the ad. Organizations must be 100% authentic or face attrition.

Assign Daily Tasks:
Gen Ys respond better to daily challenges than working on a long-term goal. This allows for the on-going recognition and validation that’s so important to Gen Ys.

Communicate:
Gen Ys need to be provided with the bigger picture and how they fit into it, if they’re going to buy into it.

Gen Ys bring a ‘work to live, not to work’ balance to the table that all generations can learn from. And with more of them entering the workforce every year, the need for meaningful, authentic engagement will only grow.

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