Opportunities and Strategies to Attract Generation Y Employees
Rutledge, Canadian HR Reporter wrote in his article: Accept that employees will leave; new employees are more likely to resign from an organization than older employees are. Today, Generation Y employees “see themselves as consumers in a marketplace of employment experiences” (Rutledge, 2005). Generation Y employees are entrepreneurial, very dedicated in having a career and their work values are very different in comparison to the previous generations. Generation Y employees switch jobs relatively often. Generation Y employees view themselves as valuable merchandise who are not afraid to put numerous positions on their resumes, because they see it as added experience (Kilber, 2014, p. 92). Some people argue that this has become the new normal for organizations. What can employers do to keep their Generation Y individuals engaged and loyal to the organization?
This post reviews literature that tries to address Generation-Y’s high turnover intention from the perspective of Person-Organization Environment fit.
Strategies and Opportunities to Attract Generation Y Employees
Generation Y employees are very complex. Employers are trying hard to understand them in order to attract and retain them. Generation Y is stereotyped as very demanding and ‘want it all now’ “who were difficult to recruit but easy to lose” (Woodruffe, 2009, p. 33). Rutledge, Bradley, Gladwell and Woodruffe on their research investigate what Generation Y individuals are after and possible strategies to apply to your organization to keep talented employees.
The first thing that employers need to work on is the way they see the issue. Employers are always trying to find the problem and the solution to this phenomenon, while Rutledge sees this phenomenon as a reality to be managed rather than a problem that needs a solution. Rutledge argues that framing it as a problem suggests that we are trying to find identification of a problem and possible application of a solution that will result in the elimination of the problem (Rutledge, 2005). However, this issue is here to stay (Rutledge).
Generation Y employees switching jobs phenomena is correlated to their fundamental psychology as humans. Bradley argues that job’s today are not meeting the basic needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs states that an individual physiological needs (food, shelter, etc), safety needs (protection, security, etc) and social needs (love, friendship, etc) need to be fulfilled first before the individual seeks to meet esteem needs (independence, respect, etc) and self-actualisation needs (fulfilment, growth) (Bradley, 2015, p. 28).
Furthermore, Rutledge references a survey conducted by The Economist in 2004, which identified the aspects of life that most contributed to human happiness. “Among the findings were “job satisfaction” at 38 per cent and “job security” at 22 per cent. What this means is almost four out of five respondents did not consider job security to be part of their happiness makeup” (Rutledge). The results of this survey build on the argument that Generation Y employees are not afraid to switch jobs in order to achieve their goals. Generation Y finds happiness in being in the right track on having a successful career.
Bradley in his article does not give much background on how he came up with the conclusion: most jobs today do not meet the basic needs. Bradley uses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to draw results that show that employee engagement is very law because their basic needs are not met. Bradley suggests, “If employees can find roles that suit their skills, passions and Interests, then they are 99% of the way towards meeting those needs. Employees must find the roles that excite and motivate them, and a company should do everything possible to help employees on this road of self-discovery” (Bradley, p. 28). Basically Bradley is implying that employers should be hiring the right people for the job in order not to fall into the issue of having them leave. The questions that raises here are: What if all Generation Y individuals are in search for the same environment that you as an organization are not providing, how are you going to attract talented people?
The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell builds the argument that Generation Y individuals will stay with the organization only if they are satisfied. Satisfaction in Generation Y according to Gladwell consists on: autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward. Employees should genuinely care about their work. Google’s strategy of having their employees spend 20% of their time on projects they are interested in seems to be working. Google found out that by having their employees work on projects they love, offering them flexible hours and providing them with many amenities in the work environment his employees will not leave the company.
Bradley investigates psychometric and personality assessments as a possible direction the resolve this problem. Bradley argues that this direction will help people find their strengths to secondments to different departments of a company. He believes that this approach will allow employees to diversify their interests and skills of their employees. This argument does not have much research to back it up and I do not see the application of this solution. Bradley is trying to solve the problem rather then to manage the current issue.
On the other hand the strategy of creating a loyal workforce and an inspired workforce has some interesting data to back up his argument. Bradley references SAS strategy in creating a loyal workforce. SAS shows their employees how much they value them by providing a large gymnasium on site and free health care and many other attractions.
“Naysayers may argue that this is money wasted, but considering that SAS’s employee turnover is roughly 20% lower than the industry norm, the amount saved just on recruiting and training fees justifies these expenses. The rewards for this investment are plentiful: SAS boasts 37 consecutive years of record earnings and being voted one of the best companies to work for means that it is a talent magnet for the best and brightest employees” (Bradley, p.29).
On the contrary, Rutledge does not buy in in the idea that all Generation Y individuals have some basic needs to fulfill. He argues that the reasons that people leave vary and for that exact reason tools such as: exit interviews, employee surveys and alumni links, are the tools that should be used to manage employee turnover. Exit interviews if handled correctly can be a magnificent tool to learn what Generation Y wants. There is also the risk that these interviews could not be so reliable because according to Rutledge many employees that are not comfortable give a safe answer. “They often say they are leaving for money. This can be the truth, of course, but often it’s not” (Rutledge). After all conducting exit interviews in-house is better than not doing them at all (Rutledge). Employee surveys are another tool that Rutledge believes that is effective because organizations get a sense of what their employees think their areas of strength and weakness are. The last tool is alumni links, which means that the employee is welcome to return. “It’s not uncommon for employees to jump from one employer to another and end up regretting that they did” (Rutledge). Some organizations use alumni links as a tool to reach back to people the organization wishes hadn’t left.
Similarly to Bradley perspective, Woodruffe focuses more in depth on the employee’s needs. According to Woodruff’s research Generation Y employees want to have a good salary and they want to be happy while they are at work. They will stay longer with an employer if they are satisfied with the job. However, keeping Generation Y satisfied requires the fulfillment of six components: achievement, respect and recognition, autonomy, balance between work and private life, congruent values and a sense of fun in a good working environment.
The first components, achievement, consist on being “an employer of choice, you want your staff to be telling their friends about the tremendous achievements they have notched up, not how they are bored out of their brains and under-utilized” (Woodruffe, p. 33).
The second component respect and recognition is very important to Generation Y they want to be trusted with information and to have their hard work noticed. There are also “intolerant of status barriers: they expect to be able to email senior people and might well extend this to those at the top of their employing organizations” (p.33). Generation Y differs from the other generations because they want to lead rather than manage (p.33).
Autonomy is the third components. Autonomy is a key component in keeping Generation Y employees satisfied because they need to feel they are trusted to get on and deliver. “They can be frustrated if they do not feel a sense of ownership over their projects or if they lack real responsibility” (p.34).
The fourth component is balance between work and private life is a hard balance to find for Generation Y. Generation Y employees are “intolerant of a lack of integration between work and private life” (p.35). They expect to check personal social media channels during work hours “it is not so much a sense of balance as a blurring of the two that matters” (p.35). Generation Y employees perceive the restrictions of social media channels at work as boundaries.
The fifth component that Woodruffe sees as very important in satisfying Generation Y employees is congruent values. If the values of the company are aligned with their values these employees are satisfied. People want to work in an organization with values that are congruent with their own. By definition, values are something on which we differ. “Generation Y is also said to be particularly vigilant to identity and intolerant of working towards something that does not reflect its own sense of identity” (p.36).
The sixth and final component is the sense of fun. A sense of fun can sound very general but includes everything that can make an organization a fun place to work at. For example: dress code, team activities, beautiful interiors for the offices, and other amenities. Woodruffe emphasizes “many people prefer to work in an informal and fun atmosphere” (p.36).
Then again, the tools that Rutledge provides are a great way to gather information to prevent Generation Y employees from leaving in the future while the second approach to the issue focuses on taking action in moving people. On the other hand, Rutledge himself argues that employers cannot really prevent employees from leaving. He says “Accept that employees will leave.”
In conclusion, employers need to understand that employee turnover is good and healthy in most cases. A five percent turnover rate now days are very low twenty five percent is very high, “organizations should set a target below which there’s no problem, and above which there may be” (Kropp, 2012, p. 41). Generation Y individuals are very complex and should not be managed as a problem (Rutledge). Overall the research showed that “job satisfaction” is more important than “job security”. Moving forward every organization should invest time and money in providing tools and amenities for their employees in order to create a happier and welcoming environment for them to work at.
Bradley, S. (2015). ENGAGING THE EMPLOYEE. Accountancy SA, , 27-30. Retrieved
Gladwell, M. (n.d.). Outliers: The Story of Success.
Kilber, J., Barclay, A., & Ohmer, D. (2014). Seven tips for managing generation Y. Journal of Management Policy and Practice,15(4), 80-91. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.woodhous.aquinas.edu/docview/1618137778?accountid=8340
Kropp, W. (2012). One voice of generation Y. Frontiers of Health Services Management, 29(1), 40-44. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.woodhous.aquinas.edu/docview/1039642821
Rutledge, T. (2005). Accept that employees will leave. Canadian HR Reporter, 18(22), 23.
Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.woodhous.aquinas.edu/docview
Woodruffe, C. (2009). Generation Y. Training Journal, , 31-35. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.woodhous.aquinas.edu/docview/202950152?accountid=8340