How Can Employers Make Themselves Relevant to Gen Y?

Employers need to think big about how they are going to showcase their organisational culture and people to draw in, attract, and retain the next wave of high potential talent. While baby boomers still firmly rule the roost in the workplace, a new generation of graduates are emerging with a different set of influences and cultural reference points.

These graduates have grown up with technology around them, and thus have a different set of expectations from the world they interact with. They can also be highly frustrating for employers to deal with, as many Gen Y want to push to the next stages of their careers without regard for ‘paying their dues’ as their forbears did.

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For Gen Y, Social and Digital Media is the nucleus of their operations, and they expect their potential employers to be visible there too. It has always been about speaking the language of, and being visible to the candidates whom you are trying to attract. Today, that means businesses of all shapes and sizes having to get to grips with the use of Social and Digital Media channels to engage with candidates, and draw the best talent to the company.

Employers need to think about how they can offer the most in depth view of their organisational culture to help them decide whether to apply. People are at the heart of any organisation – using social media channels, employers can bring people and recruits together. This enables a relationship that goes beyond the email address of the HR department, and which will have a positive impact on recruiting.

This requires an imaginative, cross-channel mentality from employers, and above all, a willingness to experiment and branch out. Some initiatives may work – some may not, but in order to truly capture the imagination, they will need to be truly original. Employers also need to think about how they are going to make themselves relevant in the mobile space – set to become bigger globally than the desktop internet in the next five years.

What, then, are the practical steps that employers take to make themselves relevant to Gen Y? Employers, for one, should definitely be considering the usage of highly targeted micro-sites to engage with employees. It is not enough to try to shoehorn a graduate and middle management employee through the same recruitment process as someone older.

Candidates will want employers to embrace technology to demonstrate the kind of experience people their age have at the organisation. What is the life of a Gen Y individual at your organisation like? How can you demonstrate this to them?

How about using a platform such as Twitter to provide daily updates from a different business leader to provide recruits with a real insight into what life at your organisation is going to be like. This needn’t involve a massive investment in time on the part of your staff – but it will go a long way to opening up the organisation to the outside world. It will also provide a way of differentiating between the candidates who have merely applied, and those who have really gone the extra mile to understand the internal culture of your organisation.

There are over 350m people on Facebook, and the number is growing fast. Not only is that too many users for your organisation to ignore, but the social web is becoming an integral part of how we use the internet. It’s natural that some of the people on Facebook, given the site’s tight hold over youth demographics, are going to be interested in a new job. Facebook is becoming ever more friendly for organisations, and innovations such as FBML landing pages make it ever easier to customise your offering. Think about how you can set your Facebook presence up as a go-to-source for the latest information on initiatives and developments underway at your company.

YouTube is a great channel for sharing content – particularly as they will handle the distribution for you, saving you on expensive bandwidth. Think about your organisation can utilise YouTube to offer individual video testimonies as to why an individual should work at your organisation, and what the organisation means to the people that work for it. It can be a powerful exposition of your internal culture, using new technologies to deliver a different take on your company.

Above all, your organisation will get credit for making an effort with these technologies. Candidates will see that your organisation has gone the extra mile in trying to understand and grapple with a space in which, after all, they spend a lot of time. Effective usage of social media provides a bold demonstration on your commitment to innovation in talent sourcing.

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Categories: Articles for Employers, Articles for Recruiters, Recruitment Strategy, Rectruitment Trends

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9 Comments on “How Can Employers Make Themselves Relevant to Gen Y?”

  1. May 13, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    Adam, I love this question you raise: “What, then, are the practical steps that employers take to make themselves relevant to Gen Y?”

    My guess is that most employers think and act something like, “We are willing to pay you X to do Y — our way. If you don’t want to, there are Z candidates available who will do Y for X.”

    He who has the gold will always call the tune. Relevancy is mostly irrelevant when compensation comes into the picture.

    It is not that I disagree with your position — it is quite valid and does demonstrate forward thinking for some organizations. I’m just saying that I believe most employers are going to ask that potential employees fit their requirements, and will not make any substantive adjustments to fit the candidates’ needs.

  2. May 13, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Hi Phil,

    Good to hear from you, thanks for your commments.

    I think what you are highlighting is the question of perspective. And I think that issue cuts across the workforce spectrum – because it’s a case of is the employer looking at what they can do for their employee or what what their employee can do for them. At the end of the day, different attitudes will work best in different industries at different times of the recruitment cycle I suppose.

    If there is shrinkage in the labour pool then I guess employers will have a greater need to adopt a more competitive and strategic approach to capturing the imagination of the younger recruits.

  3. June 9, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    I just came from a new employee orientation with about 30 people in the 1 day session. 20 gen Y’ers and 5 gen X’ers and 5 Baby Boomers. Perfect scenario of the boomers essentially on the way out and and Gen Y comin’ in. Fairly significant generation gap for both sides of the scale. HR told the crowd not to “text in sick.” Companies better be technically savvy and IT reliable to keep these employees engaged.

  4. Jom Comment
    June 10, 2010 at 5:03 am #

    I would put it another way – How can Gen Y make themselves relevant to employers? The admission that “many Gen Y want to push to the next stages of their careers without regard for ‘paying their dues’ as their forbears did” doesn’t exactly endear this pushy generation to what are already established business that are functioning perfectly well without the ‘I want it all and I want it now’ approach.

    Gen Y were brought up in the technology age, so what? We all know how to use technology, maybe to varying degrees of expertise but just because you can switch on a computer or use a million apps on your iphone it doesn’t automatically make you an ideal fit for all or indeed any prganisations. Do you have good people skills? Are you sensitive to the needs of others? What about common sense? Initiative? Creative thinking? Are you well presented? Are you customer focused? Diplomatic? What actual experience do you have over and above being techno savvy? You have to be able prove your worth, your ability. You have to justify this pushy, impatient, ‘I deserve the fast track’ approach. It is not a God given right, it is presumptious in the extreme and wholly undermines the talents of an organisation’s existing workforce. People want more than someone who was brought up in the technological age. They want soft skills too. They want people who can fit in, not demand preferential treatment and make waves within the workforce.

    So let’s start again, How can you, Mr or Ms Gen Y, make yourself relevant to employers?

    • June 10, 2010 at 8:18 am #

      Hi Jom,
      Hmmm interesting. I think you have hit the nail on the head – yes: technology obviously doesn’t compensate for people skills (or lack thereof). However, the demographic point is that Gen Y are the generation with choice. Given healthy economic conditions where there is choice in the job marketplace and a shrinking workforce, surely employers will need to woo these Gen Y’ers whether they are “pushy” and “unappealing” or not?

  5. Jim McNees
    June 10, 2010 at 6:03 am #

    I just came from a new employee orientation with about 30 people in the 1 day session. 20 gen Y’ers and 5 gen X’ers and 5 Baby Boomers. Perfect scenario of the boomers essentially on the way out and and Gen Y comin’ in. Fairly significant generation gap for both sides of the scale. HR told the crowd not to “text in sick.”

    Companies better be technically savvy and IT reliable to keep these employees engaged.

    • June 10, 2010 at 8:14 am #

      Hi Jim,
      That texting example of yours really highlights a mindset shift – thank you!

  6. Jenn Cloud
    June 24, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Great article, definitely highlighted that employers can’t just wait around! However, I see this as one-sided. Employers definitely need to stay savvy to developing trends and ideas, but we as “Millennials” also need to be multi-taskers, multi-generationally. It’s important to learn to be real people in the workplace too, adapting to and enhancing the environment in which we work. We bring unique skills to the table, and proper awareness of the many forms of communication we have available to help organizations grow is essential on our part!

    Thanks for the post!

  7. Dr. Woody
    June 24, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    I agree with Jenn, hiring is a two-way street. The notion of candidate-job fit is certainly not a new one. I think that employers should always be as open as possible, so as to allow candidates that don’t “fit” to self select out.

    To Jenn’s point, considering that the unemployment rate for 20-24 year-olds is nearly 15%, it’s important to remember this is a buyers market for employers. Gen Y is the first generation to truly grow up digital and view technology as a direct extension of themselves. However, the need for socialization and physical human interaction is also critical to survival in most any work environment. At the end of the day, we have to be careful about over emphasizing the use of social media and de-emphasizing the need to actually work with and actually get along with others.
    Got Something To Say?
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