Gen Ys Are Fast to Decide on a New Employer

Organizations do not have much time to win the trust of younger employees, according to a survey of more than 2,500 senior human resource executives by Novations Group, a global consulting organization.
Half the executives reported they have generally less than six months to “prove” to Gen Y employees that the company is the best place for them. One-quarter of respondents indicated they have less than a month.
In your experience, how much time do employers have to “prove” to employees in their 20s that the company is the best place for them?

  • Less than month: 26 percent
  • One to six months: 51 percent
  • More than six months: 22 percent

“Impatience is hardly a new phenomenon among employees in their 20s,” noted Novations Executive Consultant Tim Vigue. “But HR departments are seeing unusually rapid turnover among Gen Ys, or Millennials, and they’re not sure what to do about it.”

The widespread impression that that Gen Y employees do not hesitate to “job hop” to get what they want appears to be accurate, said Vigue. “And three-quarters of HR executives seem to be aware of this and realize they have but a short window in which to capture the hearts and minds of such new hires.”

Technology has helped contribute to their impatience, observed Vigue. “Gen Ys are the most technology-savvy generation and grew up with immediate access to whatever they needed such as information or connections. They are able to identify new opportunities much more easily than any generation before them, so they tend to be impatient when told they have to wait and pay their dues.”

Vigue offered some simple tactics that can improve Gen Y retention:

  • Make sure every candidate gets a realistic job preview that provides a clear sense of what to expect from the company, department, manager, team and job. Research indicates when new hires get a comprehensive picture up-front, first-year turnover drops significantly.
  • Engage with the new hire from the day an offer is accepted. Communicate proactively before the new employee starts, providing information about the company and the job that will be needed for a successful transition.
  • Try to connect the new hire with other employees. Organizations may underestimate the power of relationships in the work environment. As early as possible, make sure the new hire makes a connection with every key person who will play a role in the employee’s success. Be sure the individual knows about the formal and informal networks in the organization so a sense of belonging may be established quickly.
  • Explain how the individual’s work fits into the big picture. Everyone wants to be able to do good work that makes a difference. Gen Y’s in particular have been taught by their parents to ask “why,” seeking the meaning behind the task.
  • From the outset, let the individual know what the company will do to ensure there are opportunities to learn and grow. Gen Ys have learned the importance of developing new skills over and above loyalty to an organization or job. As a result, Gen Ys are vocal when they do not see enough opportunities for development.

Gen Y attitudes were shaped by their upbringing, believes Vigue. “Gen Y parents taught them they’re special, that they can do anything, and as such should not settle for less than what they deserve. At the same time, their boomer and Gen X parents experienced downsizing and taught them that loyalty to an organization is outdated, that they need to look out for themselves first.”

Finally, Vigue advises employers to let a new hire know that during the first several months, while the focus is on learning a job, mistakes are expected and may be viewed as opportunities for learning. “Reassurance such as this can go a long way to improving the likelihood that your Gen Y employees will stay.”

Equation Research conducted the Internet survey of 2,556 senior HR and T&D executives in December 2007.

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