15 Things I Know About Gen-Y

Locating and hiring top talent isn’t as easy as it used to be. A lifetime job with good benefits, vacation, and 401k has been replaced by think tank rooms, organic cafeterias and a work force that many believe to be very transient. 

The fact is you are going to have to abandon the old rules and start fresh if you want to attract new talent. That’s especially true if you’re looking to recruit Gen-Y talent to your buesiness. So, here’s a quick primer on how these individuals think and what they expect from their employers, in my humble opinion of course.


1. They Want to Direct Themselves: They want the opportunity to show they can get the job done without being micro-managed. Start with proper training and then allow them to get into their own groove.

2. They Demand Freedom of Schedule: This doesn’t mean they need to be able to make their own schedule, but it does mean the traditional approach won’t be sustainable.

3. They Seek Unconventional Employment Benefits: Look for other ways to entice this group besides the salary, vacation, 401k combo.

4. They Prioritize Lifestyle Over Salary: Aside from student loans, this group hasn’t had to take on all the debt and life responsibilities that drive the hunger of most people.

5. They Want to Know They’re Making a Difference: They want to know they are contributing and that you value their efforts.

5. They Want Feedback: They want to know what’s going on. But they don’t want to simply be told they’re doing a great job, they want to know how they can improve.

6. They Want Flexibility: “My way or the highway” won’t work with this group. Rethink that strategy and learn how to be more flexible without compromising your process.

Now that we’ve covered what they want, let’s look at the eight things you have to do to prepare for their arrival.

1. Streamline Bureaucracy: Make decisions, offer direction, act on those decisions, and follow through on promises.

2. Improve Communication: Create an open-door policy and encourage two-way conversations.

3. Create a Path for Growth: Even if you aren't a big company you can still create opportunities for growth inside your organization. If you are a retail organization like a car dealership for example you can create different levels of sales professionals based on certification, training, units sold and tenure. Start your next new hire as a “junior” salesperson and give him or her a path toward a senior-level salesperson position. You can even offer salary increases or commissions and bonuses to go along with the tiers. Whatever structure you create, creating a path for growth is how you keep talent striving for the next level.

4. Start With a Clean Slate: It’s never a fun exercise, but in order to attract and retain talent, you need to put everything on the table. That includes everything from pay and work schedules to time-off and other policies. end-of-month policies. Look, this new generation thinks differently, which means we have to do the same.

5. Invest in Them Early: You can’t operate with a fear of losing your people. You have to train and invest in their development. Besides, you don’t want untrained people dealing with your customers. Even if you do train them and they leave, at least you got 100 percent effort from them while they were with your organization.

6. Flatter Them: In today’s society, everyone gets a trophy. That means you have to encourage and compliment your talent if you want them to give you 100 percent effort and stay with your organization.

7. Break Goals Down Into Small Wins: Don’t wait until the month ends to review successes and failures with your sales teams. Assign daily and weekly tasks and check on their progress regularly throughout the month.

8. Encourage a Team Atmosphere: This provides a built-in support system that will help you retain and grow your team.

Those are the keys to attracting talented Gen-Yers. And who knows? Implementing some of the policies I described might also help you retain the talented vets who just need a little encouragement.