One of the keys to staff retention is properly motivating and inspiring workers, but this can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to Generation Y employees (those aged between 18 and 29). Monster recently conducted an international survey with research company GfK examining the job satisfaction levels of 8,000 workers from different countries and revealed malcontent among younger workers. In fact, those workers under 25 were the most dissatisfied in each country surveyed with a significant percentage saying that they disliked or hated their current roles —Netherlands (25 percent), UK (23 percent), Germany (17 percent), US (14 percent), Canada (13 percent) and France (10 percent).
However, we shouldn’t dismiss this cohort as a generation of complainers — these digital natives have different sensibilities and require guidance catered toward their unique characteristics to ensure that employers are maximizing their talents and keeping them engaged. But giving added attention to younger workers can be a challenge for employers, many of whom lost the middle management layer during the downturn that may have once been able to devote time nurturing them. As such, companies need to be savvy when mentoring their Gen Y employees — a practice which is particularly important at the moment as the battle for talent, at all levels, only continues to heat up.
One of the ways of nurturing these younger workers is to ensure that they get regular feedback so they can see a growth path for their career — whilst older generations may be content with annual reviews, Gen Ys need it much more frequently. Inspired by the likes of Jack Dorsey, they have seen CEOs of global companies in their 20s and early 30s which fuels their ambition — a fantastic trait, but one that needs to be carefully managed with consistent reviews and a solid mentoring program. If Gen Y’s aspirations are aligned with a realistic career development plan, employers will benefit from bolstered engagement. And, while most benefit from this level of support and feedback, some don’t necessarily like being coddled — those in Gen Y are perceptive, and they will appreciate openness and honesty — so constructive feedback is key.
As digital natives, Gen Ys have always had easy access to vast amounts of information and are accustomed to being bombarded with lots of content — most of which, for them, is more or less disposable. The result is that they are prone to suffer from information overload in a workplace setting, and they may have difficulty differentiating between what is business critical information and what isn’t. This is where attuned managers can help these workers structure their time and clarify priorities; just a check-in of a few minutes can ensure hours of productivity.
Being skilled with social media is also one of the factors that has fueled their group-oriented nature and makes them great team players. Managers needing a collaboration of minds would do well to include Gen Y workers as team tasks will help to bring out the best in them and keep them motivated. Gen Ys generally strive to be recognized for their creativity and innovation and view these skills as a must-have component for success. Managers should delegate this type of work to Gen Ys when appropriate, and certainly encourage the creative approaches that these workers might take.
With younger workers, employers have the opportunity to help shape employees who not only understand company processes, but appreciate values and culture as well. Keeping these younger workers engaged may take some extra effort, but it is an investment worth making.