Generation Y and why we should close the recruitment debate

Following on from yesterday’s front page write-up in the Gold Coast Bulletin about ‘Generation Y’ being lazy and arrogant and unemployable, as researched by a team at Gold Coast City Council, we actually believe the opposite. We were asked to comment for the article and gave a positive response, stating that times have changed over the last few years and so have candidates in that category (our “edited” response was on page 4).

We believed the research to be somewhat outdated as today’s ‘Gen Y’ candidates that come through our agency for interview are quite skilled, are happy to negotiate salary and have shown their worth to our clients. Whilst some employers may have experienced some poor performers both in attitude and value for money through their own recruitment efforts, we have seen and placed some exceptional ‘Gen Y’ candidates that far exceeded those of ‘Gen X’ or ‘Baby Boomer’ categories.

Looking at the negatives that some of those against ‘Gen Y’ had experienced included:

  • High expectations of salary or wages
  • Disrespectful to their peers and managers
  • Poor work ethic (not hard workers, late to work, not goal driven)
  • Hard to manage
  • Hard to retain

What are the solutions?

From our experience in the recruitment space, a lot of these negatives are actually standard responses we receive from employers about people of all ages in their workforce, excluding the ‘hard to retain’ reason for more mature workers. Our job is to screen these candidates out before presenting them to you anyway. The best way for you to beat this is to actually look at your recruitment methods – how do you recruit, what are you actually looking for, what type of person fits your work culture, are you writing an attractive job advertisement, how do you interview, what questions do you ask, what questions do you ask their referees, are you judging character properly, what are you offering, is the salary/wage offered relative to the current market or just your opinion, what will be the status of their employment (casual / permanent / full time / part time / contract)? If you can answer these questions and recruit well, chances are that you will be screening out those that don’t meet what you want, irrespective of age or generation.

Retaining staff

We certainly agree that some ‘Gen Y’ candidates and employees differ from those before them and can be hard to retain – there is, unfortunately, no magic pill for this. ‘Gen Y’ have more of a sense of ‘now’ and needing to move up quickly through the ranks to make good money to be part of the ‘have’ generation. They are more self aware in the fact that they assess who they are and where they are going more often than we do – this is something significant that we have seen during our recruitment campaigns.  ‘Gen Y’ sometimes have the tendency to get bored in their role as they are used to technology, can pick up things a lot quicker than some of us  and may be attracted to other roles in the organisation that seem more detailed – by seeing them stagnant in their role it can raise the assumption of laziness rather than what it really is – an urge to learn and move to the next thing. Our thoughts on this are to look at their learning and communication styles. You most probably differ in your learning style and may assume that is how they learn, which is not necessarily the case. You don’t need to hold the hand of ‘Gen Y’ employees, just sit down with them more regularly, ask them how they are going, ask for ideas to improve current processes, and ask them if they feel they are being paid well. You may be surprised with the responses and ideas that they bring to the team and their insight on their worth, which you can debate openly. They will feel more involved, respected and have the recognition that this generation craves. It may also improve their focus on the business, helping you to retain someone that could be a future supervisor or manager.

At the end of the day, it’s about your business and how a person fits what you require for it to run well. Yes, things can go pear shaped however having the right processes at the beginning can have a huge impact on whether you continually have issues arising in your workforce. If you say no to ‘Gen Y’ then quite frankly you are missing out on some really good candidates that could help you attract a new market, steer your business in a new direction, offer new ways of doing what you have been doing, and ultimately, help lead to the survival of your business in a new economy.

Now, let’s put the debate to bed once and for all and recruit some great candidates!

2 replies
  1. Con says:

    Dave this is a conversation we should have over coffee gen Y makes up approx 70% of our staff (~65+) and we have seen distinct traits and behaviors as well as needs and attitudes maybe a coffee in the next 2 weeks?

  2. admin says:

    Sure Con, I would be happy to catch up to hear your insights. I will give you a call shortly to set a time and place.

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