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Generation Y

10 Strategies To Get Gen Y To Work

Recession or not, we are in the age of the young knowledge worker. Generation Y, presently ages 13 to 26, is the most high-performing generation in the history of mankind with more information in their heads and at their fingertips–so they can perform a variety of tasks in many business domains and can live anywhere if the job and company are cool.

Recession or not, we are in the age of the young knowledge worker. Generation Y, presently ages 13 to 26, is the most high-performing generation in the history of mankind with more information in their heads and at their fingertips–so they can perform a variety of tasks in many business domains and can live anywhere if the job and company are cool. In addition to their knowledge, Ys differ from other generations in many respects, from their political views to the careers they choose (or don't choose). Ys are ambitious, and if you can't find a compelling reason to stick around, they won't. Recent surveys indicate that employers are least likely to hire Generation Y in comparison to other generations. Gen Y workers have been negatively labeled 'demanding' and 'self-serving', rather than 'confident' and 'focused on work-life balance'. When you look at the fact that over 64 million workers will be eligible to retire by the year 2010, this puts employers in a talent deficit dilemma. Employers will have no choice but to work side-by-side and succession plan with Generation Y.But recruiting Generation Y isn't the only hurdle that needs to be cleared. The presence of Ys n the workplace is truly making an impact, causing employers to worry, fret, and scratch their heads asking, 'What do I do to attract the 20-something worker, and once I have them, how do I keep them?' Employers have really struggled to understand this generation that isn't interested in climbing a corporate ladder or motivated by robust benefits packages and increasing salaries. The year 2010 is nearly a year away. With 40% of our workforce eligible to retire, who will take their place? Will Gen Y be working for your company or for your competition? I spend a great deal of time researching and tracking the efforts of the companies listed below, and I recently discovered that Bea Fields, a fellow generational consultant, compiled them into a great top 10 list. Here's her list of companies who are successful attracting Gen Y, the young knowledge worker. As you read through this list, consider how your company can expand its knowledge and its workforce.

  1. Google: Focus on PerksGoogle is raising the bar for each company in the world in the war for young talent. According to a study done by the Great Place to Work Institute, Google is at the top of Gen Y's list of companies they most want to work for –and why not? Google employees gain access to perks including on-site dental and medical facilities; free breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis at 11 gourmet restaurants; unlimited sick leave;and a global education leave program which enables employees to take a leave of absence to pursue further education for up to 5 years and $150,000 in reimbursement.
  2. Intuit: Focus on a Rotational Development ProgramGen Y was born multi-tasking, so boredom on the job can set in quickly. Intuit has addressed this by offering a cracker-jack Rotational Development Program, allowing new recruits rotation programs in finance, marketing and product development every 6-12 months. This program not only keeps young workers engaged but prepares them for future leadership positions in the company.
  3. Walt Disney: Focus on Internships and a Collaborative CultureThe Walt Disney Company has a rock solid internship program for college students, which includes college credits for the colleges they partner with, which gets young leaders committed to the company before they graduate. Disney is also built on a foundation of a diverse and collaborative culture, and Generation Y was born playing on teams made up of members from all cultures and walks of life. The sense of camaraderie makes Disney attractive for Gen Y, because it breeds a familiar sense of teamwork.
  4. Deloitte: Focus on Leadership DevelopmentGeneration Y is very attracted to all aspects of learning and development. They have been raised on a diet which includes a combination of personal, leadership and team development. Deloitte has therefore designed a state of the art leadership program called the Future Leaders Apprentice Program (FLAP), and new recruits are immediately eligible for the program. Deloitte is also offering a top flight coaching and mentoring program. Because Gen Y has been coached since age 5, they are saying that the coaching and development programs offered by Deloitte are two of the main attraction points that has them stick around or return later in their career.
  5. The Peace Corps: Focus on Saving the WorldThe pay in The Peace Corps not so great (as a matter of fact, most Gen Y leaders say it's lousy), but they are willing to sacrifice pay in order to do meaningful work on a global scale, to work and live in another country where they can become fluent in a new language and to toughen up mentally and emotionally by doing hard work with long hours. Generation Y sees companies who are making a significant contribution back to their communities as tops on their lists for future employment. Teach for America is another hot and growing company that allows emerging leaders the opportunity to teach in failing school districts–another approach to 'making a difference' in the world.
  6. Lockheed Martin:Focus on Continuing EducationGen Y is all about knowledge acquisition and Lockheed Martin aeronautics and space company has hit the nail on the head with 20-something recruits by offering a maximum of $7500.00 annual for education reimbursement and full graduate school sponsorship for junior level employees.
  7. L'Oreal USA: Focus on College Competitions and World TravelIf you have not noticed this lately, Gen Y loves a competition, and they are certainly keen on world travel. L'Oreal has latched onto this idea with its L'Oreal Brandstorm Competition, providing college students the opportunity to compete by putting themselves in the shoes of a L'Oreal Brand Manager. The competition allows emerging leaders the opportunity to analyze consumer trends while developing a top of the line marketing and advertising campaign for L'Oreal. The winner receives a trip to Paris and the opportunity to interact with top L'Oreal managers, giving young recruits a leg up during the recruiting and hiring process. The competition alone creates buzz and a 'cool factor' for L'Oreal, which is appealing to 20-somethings.
  8. Southwest Airlines: Focus on FunGeneration Y's mantra is "Live First, Work Second and Have Fun!", and Southwest's quirky but fun-loving culture makes it a great first stomping grounds for the young knowledge worker.
  9. Nike: Focus on FitnessNike's campus is a prime location for Gen Y, who hits the gym at least 3-4 times each week. Nike is situated on over 170 acres, which includes a fabulous exercise center, playing fields and running trails. And of course, their "Just Do It" tagline inspires young workers to actually use these facilities rather than sitting at home in front of their computer or the tube.
  10. Apple: Focus on SimplicityIf you have visited an Apple store lately, you will notice that you will be greeted by a young man or woman under age 30 at the Genius Bar. In a report by Outlaw Consulting, Apple won the number 1 loyalty spot for Gen Y because their products are as "stripped-down and unadorned as possible". To be simple means convenience and speed to the multi-tasking Gen Y crowd. This audience is also highly dedicated to saving the environment. Gen Y is therefore choosing to work for companies like Apple whose positioning is dedicated to the greening of our world.
Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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