As the saying goes, “don’t believe everything you hear.” The case of Gen Y is no exception. A survey commissioned jointly by Robert Half and Yahoo! HotJobs reveals a very different picture of this group of young workers – one that emphatically contradicts many of the stereotypes circulating.
As an employer or manager, it’s worthwhile to take a fresh look at this energetic, interesting and lively generation of workers, sometimes also referred to as Millennials. At 80 million strong, this is one demographic that’s going to be part of the workforce for years to come. The more that is learned about them now, the easier it will be for companies looking to recruit, manage, motivate and retain them.
According to the survey, compensation and benefits issues were the top career concerns for 33 percent of respondents. Millennials are aware that the Social Security safety net may not be there for them. They’ve heard their parents’ generation express anxiety about saving enough for retirement. Robert Half’s research found that, when Gen Yers evaluate employment opportunities, “benefits” (including 401(k) programs) are among the top three decisive factors. They struggle with the problem of how to make a living, live a satisfying life and save for the future all at the same time.
It’s important to take this pragmatism into account when recruiting Millennial candidates. A Gen Yer won’t be thrilled by a below-average salary offer even if there’s the possibility of a bonus or raise in six months. It’s better to make them an upfront offer they can’t refuse. Use resources such salary guides, the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and industry or trade publications to ensure compensation is at or above average for a given position.
Promote company’s healthcare and retirement benefits on the firm’s website and during interviews. Keep in mind that Gen Yers don’t want to wait three months for healthcare coverage, or a year to be vested in your 401(k) plan. Try to enroll them on or soon after their hire date. To ensure that the company’s benefits package is competitive, aggressively shop rates and providers when it’s time to renew contracts. Don’t automatically opt for what has always been provided – Gen Y workers will be quick to look for employers with more to offer.
It’s another myth that Millennial workers don’t care about staying at one job for a prolonged period of time.
In this survey, 26 percent of respondents cited job stability as their chief career concern. It makes sense. This generation watched their parents get downsized, right sized, laid off and sidelined. They know that long-term job security is essentially a thing of the past. They understand that they must work hard to achieve financial security and stability – and even then, there are no guarantees.
Among survey respondents, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) cited career satisfaction as their leading concern. Here’s where their pragmatism is tempered with a healthy dose of idealism. This generation seeks fulfillment on the job and a positive work environment where they can realize their potential.
To create this kind of workplace, offer in-house training programs and mentoring programs that match Gen Yers with more senior workers. Give Millennial employees assignments that challenge them and allow them to develop new skills. Try to make their jobs exciting and varied. Encourage managers to provide them with ongoing feedback rather than waiting for the yearly evaluation.