Much of today’s scarcity of talent amongst professionals exists in Gen X (who represent 26% of the population), and increasingly with Gen Y (29%) – in total, they represent 55% of the population. If you want great people from these generations to join you productively and happily, give them what they want. Give them what most other companies are not.
And no, they won’t be ‘like us one day’ and suddenly change and want the jobs and strive for the things that those born before 1965 usually want. They have been shaped by a world incredibly different to what the previous generations grew up with – they are different and will remain so.
Some things are incontrovertible in what they seek from a job:
- Balance (but what they mean by balance varies)
- Growth – Professional and Personal
- Fun – a social life, a good ‘pack’ to run with
They are serious about a career, but are serious about different things or in a different way. The old model of working 60 hours a week, earning your stripes to be rewarded a (workaholic) directorship or partnership just doesn’t appeal to lots of them (though it does to some – remember the diversity within all generations).
Given these differences, you need to redesign jobs: and not reluctantly. Embrace the changes required if you want to hire the best of X and Y.
so what do they want?
Charged by Boomers with being needy and fragile, it’s more that they value feedback and input. It’s not that they are slackers or easily distracted as much as they want to enjoy work, and they value lifestyle and balance
They want a workplace where they can belong, which is stress-free and social, a family friendly workplace, and which values the triple bottom line – not just profits, but the planet (environment) and people (socio-economic concerns)
- Make the workplace fun: perhaps a relaxed dress code, fun photo boards/noticeboards, regular celebrations (birthdays, achievements, new clients), supporting their favourite charities etc.
- They don’t respond well to many rules, “because I said so” management, insincere (or absent) thank-yous and feedback, or sterile, lifeless offices.
- Implement: training that will help their career not just their current job, meetings that provide participation, interaction, and food.
- Xers and Y’s value feedback: from handwritten notes or cards (a rare commodity in their lives), non-monetary rewards (movie tickets, CD vouchers etc) to formal recognition (references, certificates, letters for their resume`).
- The reality is that there will always be lower retention rates of young staff than the older generations but retention can be improved. Here’s what will help: Accessibility: take the mystery out of how decisions are made, Variety: give junior staff greater responsibility/roles in their work, let them conduct exit interviews, give presentations, and organise staff events. Understand the revolving door: if they leave for a new job, or further study: keep in touch – they may later want to return.
Business Coach, Shirlaws
[This article is an extract from Toby Marshall’s new book, Get Great People. The book can be ordered from Amazon in September. To contact Toby regarding speaking engagements or people problem solving: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0402 799 746]