As Baby Boomers begin to retire in increasing numbers, even more emphasis is being placed on the Gen Y workforce. What can you do to recruit, manage, and engage Gen Y workers?

Gen Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, consists of people who were born between the early 1980's and approximately 2000. Gen Y has grown up in a time where information is instantly available. This is the social media and texting generation. Partially due to instant communication, Gen Y has gained the reputation of being very peer oriented.
Recruitment

Make sure that your initial recruiting efforts are straightforward. You need to clearly define what is being offered by the company and what will be expected of the employee. Gen Y appreciates companies that have less bureaucracy. They want to see development and growth opportunities and expect to receive clear feedback. If your company offers development programs or succession planning, emphasize this in the recruiting process.

Benefits

Generally well educated, tech savvy, resourceful and confident Gen Y has very different expectations from their employers than that of their predecessors. This generation is socially minded and creative. They seek a work environment that is flexible and an employer that offers out-of-the-box benefits. This does not necessarily mean that you need a foosball table in your break room. Instead seek to find a balance that allows your employees to feel comfortable and able to collaborate freely.

A sense of purpose and social mindedness is important to Gen Y. You should work to tie the mission and values of the company to the greater good. Is your company participating in charitable acts within your community? What programs do you offer that allow your employees to give back? Many companies offer their employees paid hours each year to volunteer their time to charitable activities.

Offering your employees something beyond a career, in terms of a work life balance is an excellent way to retain your top performers for the long-term. Telecommuting is a very viable option in our modern workplace. Conferences can be held via webcam, utilizing the latest technology. Many companies offer optional telecommuting days which afford employees an opportunity to work from home and spend less time commuting. Many companies have found telecommuting to actually increase employee productivity.
Engagement

Employee engagement through incentive programs is also a strong motivator. Depending upon your type of business you could consider performance incentives such as additional PTO, gift cards, or other prize giveaways. Another avenue to consider are wellness incentives, such as an employee gym or discount health club memberships.

Communication often leads to increased trust and engagement. When managing a Gen Y workforce it's important to remember that feedback needs to be clear and timely. Quarterly reviews alone are not enough. There needs to be ongoing coaching in the form of a more informal dialogue.

What is most important to remember is that you need to keep an open mind to the changing needs of the workforce. Always remember that there isn't a one size fits all solution and you may need to keep evolving your workplace to keep a competitive advantage in terms of employee retention.

Jeniffer Betts, PHR