At Clarity, we are always looking to bring you information to help you attract, hire and engage exceptional talent. That is why we’ve decided to include a guest blog by Giselle Kovary and Adwoa Buahene from “n-gen People Performance Inc.” As experts in helping organizations engage multi-generational customers and employees, Giselle and Adwoa offer you the following insight into working with Gen Y both inside and outside of your organization.
By Giselle Kovary, M.A. & Adwoa K. Buahene, M.A.
n-gen People Performance Inc.
For many employers, there are a lot of good business reasons to recruit from Generation Y. If you’re looking for creative, eager, tech-savvy staffers, then hiring “Gen Ys” — people born between 1981-2000 — is a good place to start.
However, this youngest generation of employees has some very different ideas and expectations about their work and professional relationships than their predecessors. As a hiring manager, it’s important for you to understand the generational differences when you are considering bringing Gen Y candidates into your organization.
Gen Ys are used to having a voice
This generation of young people is one that is accustomed to being heard. From the time they could speak, they have been actively encouraged — by their parents and caregivers, teachers and coaches, even politicians and business leaders — to share their opinions and beliefs. Understandably, then, Gen Ys are quite used to publicly expressing their thoughts, as well as to having their opinions acted upon.
As a result, candidates from this generation can often be quite frank and open with hiring authorities during the recruitment process about their own expectations and desires. Don’t be alarmed if you feel that they are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.
Gen Ys work at their own pace
Generally speaking, Gen Ys expect to be able to strike a balance between their work demands and responsibilities, on the one hand, and their personal lives, on the other. This juggling act can translate into a very fluid work schedule and style. Coming into the office “late”; leaving in the middle of the day to run errands; connecting to a WiFi hotspot to submit a report from a coffee shop or a restaurant; working at home in the evening — for Gen Ys, these are all ways of adapting their work responsibilities to their personal, social, and other non-professional commitments. If nothing else, this generation of employees has forced organizations to rethink how work should be structured and performance evaluated.
Don’t be fooled: this doesn’t mean that Gen Ys don’t have a work ethic. Top performers from all four generations of employees (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys) possess a work ethic. Regardless of age, the best and the brightest employees in any organization all have a committment to their work and professional development. But while a Baby Boomer and a Gen Y might share the same tenacious work ethic, their respective routines and schedules may differ significantly — they might even conflict with one another.
Whether or not your organization can accommodate Generation Y’s desired work style is something you, as a hiring manager, need to carefully consider before you extend an offer to a Gen Y candidate. If the fit between what you can offer and what the candidate wants is not a good one, or if there’s too profound a clash between cultures and styles, the results can be disastrous: low engagement levels, high turnover, and a negative perception of your employment brand by others in the same peer group.
Gen Ys can be eager (to a fault)
Many Gen Ys are keen to add value in the workplace, by offering new solutions and creatively leveraging technology. Their hunger can provide a shot in the arm for teams in dire need of fresh ideas and enthusiasm — something you as a hiring manager might very well be looking to add to your organization.
But the youthful exuberance of Gen Ys can be a double-edged sword. Gen Ys often don’t have sufficient experience or background to tailor their suggestions to the business goals of the organization. At the same time, their raw enthusiasm can sometimes rub more experienced teammates the wrong way. In their eagerness to add value and introduce changes, Gen Ys often unintentionally offend some of their tenured team members. To avoid team conflict, it’s important for you to be clear during the recruitment process, about how much input and influence new employees can expect to have in making team decisions or driving change.
Questions to ask your candidate
Now that you understand some of the expectations and motivations shared by members of Generation Y, here are 3 things you, as a hiring manager, should consider before making a job offer to a Gen Y candidate:
1. Does the Gen Y demonstrate an understanding of your workplace culture and structure?
Gen Ys tend to approach everyone as a peer — including senior leaders. A Gen Y who doesn’t understand the levels of hierarchy in your organization, or who can’t communicate appropriately with their colleagues and superiors, may not be a good long-term hire.
2. Is there a friend of the Gen Y candidate in your organization?
Loyalty to their pack is one of the hallmarks of this cohort. Gen Ys overwhelmingly consider organizations where their friends work and where they can be part of a team of people they already like and know. If this is the case, and the candidate already has a friend working for you, then they’ve probably already evaluated your organization. Either way, you should ask them what they know about your brand as an employer, and what their perceptions are of your products or services.
3. What are the Gen Y candidate’s expectations for career development in your organization? And can you indicate, and commit to, a clear career path for them?
Gen Ys, on the whole, expect organizations to invest in their learning and development; they envision rapid career growth for themselves. This can pose some challenges for their employers, especially if their desired timeline is incompatible with the organization’s needs and abilities. It’s important for you, as a hiring manager, both to identify the Gen Y candidate’s career expectations, and to communicate your company’s own schedule of advancement. Clearly indicate to the candidate how long an employee must stay in a role, and what level of performance they must achieve before being eligible for promotion.
Gen Y candidates offer considerable value to employers today. This is a generation of young people who have grown up with technology and new media, and who have been trained for a dynamic economy that demands diverse and ever-changing skills and knowledge. What they may lack in experience, they more than make up for in energy and enthusiasm. Recruit the right Gen Y candidate, and they could be a mainstay of your organization for many years. But ensuring that the candidate is a right fit for your company, and vice versa, requires some foresight and preparation, so that your organization can get the most out of this generation and drive desired business results.
Adwoa K. Buahene and Giselle Kovary are the co-authors of Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills (2012) & Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations (2007) and co-founders of n-gen People Performance Inc., a training company that works with Fortune 500 companies across North America.
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