Hiring Millennials: What Gen Y really wants

Generation Y? Millennials? Echo Boomers? Yes, this is the young workforce who grew up in a world of computers, mobile phones, tablets, instant messaging, emails and the internet which is constantly changing and moving. To be precise, we are talking about 80 million young adults who were born between 1976 and 2001. Companies have to think about in what way they can attract, hire, manage, promote and retain this new generation of workers. Strategies, policies and procedures will have to be changed in order to manage a multigenerational workforce.

The general perception of these millennials is that they are young, energetic, highly tech savvy, well educated, diverse, team oriented, results oriented, independent minded with an entrepreneurial spirit (according to a Forbes article 30 % of students started their business at college). Attracting and hiring millennials will be a real challenge because their view of work and life is quite different from past generations.

What do millennials expect from their future employers?

  • Earning a high salary is important but not their main priority. They prefer having a job that is meaningful, which offers opportunities to learn and grow within the company and which they are proud of. The job should ideally give them challenges from Day one. They measure their level of success more on the number of Facebook friends rather than their salary.
  • A fun environment and corporate culture that reflects also their own values is something that they also consider as important.
  • An environment in which strong relationships (and even friendships) to work colleagues as well as bosses can be built. The level of respect towards leaders is different. They would prefer to deal with everyone on a more informal way.
  • A high level of flexibility with regard to workplace, working time and working methods. They want to make sure that the job gets done, but want to decide by themselves where, when and how they are going to do it. For them the line between private and corporate life is blurred, therefore they appreciate flexible working days and hours. They prefer to have the liberty to decide where they want to carry out their job (sometimes at home, sometimes at the office or just in a WiFi connected café). They also prefer to carry out a task the way they think is the most effective and efficient by using the tools they want (as long as the desired outcome will be achieved).
  • An employer’s understanding that they will not stay in their company for the rest of their lives. Millennials are known to be job hoppers, employees who are not loyal to their employer and whose first priority is not job security and stability but having the best experience and a sense of achievement.
  • Dress codes should not be too formal but rather casual, being allowed to wear comfortable clothes would be welcomed.
  • Device flexibility, this would give them the choice to work on their own preferred gadget (which they would be allowed to take along from their home).
  • Social media freedom (64 % ask about social media policies during job interviews, out of which 24 % say that it is a key factor when accepting the job offer, according to a Forbes article)
  • Since they are hungry for recognition they appreciate on the spot feedback rather than annual performance reviews. They also expect promotions to happen much faster. They are eager to put effort and time into it as long as the employer acknowledges it. But careful, they don’t welcome criticism. One needs to do it in a very diplomatic way.

A company has a difficult task to manage a multigenerational workforce which has different priorities and mentalities. The credo of Gen Y is to work smart rather than hard. They consider ‘time’ as only one part of their life which they don’t want to waste.

One area in which companies as well as schools need to catch up is to train this new generation how to communicate and socialize with a diverse group of people who are of different age, gender and background. There are too many cases of inappropriate online and offline communication which demonstrate that there is a big lack of communication skills. We can blame to some extent our high technology-driven environment for that, however, there is still hope. 

Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a passionate Public Speaker, eBook Author, and a freelancing Online Content Producer. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 18 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India.