Gen Y

They like to ask their parents for career advice, they don’t remember a time without computers, and they think the idea of “paying your dues” is antiquated. The Millenials, also know as Generation Y, were born between 1979 and 1999, and those at the forefront of this generation are just beginning their careers.

These young professionals are future managers, supervisors and executives of tomorrow, and their work styles and professional expectations are relevant to every hiring manager. Robert Half International, along with Yahoo! HotJobs, surveyed more than 1,000 adults ages 21-28 to help understand the group’s priorities and mindset. Following are some tips to help you attract Gen Y workers and keep them motivated, inspired and loyal to your firm.

Make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.
As with nearly all employees, money talks when it comes to hiring Gen Y.  And because this is a group that’s accustomed to instant gratification (think video games, instant messaging, etc.), it’s wise to make professionals an up-front offer too good to turn down rather than providing reduced compensation with a raise in six months. 

While the Millennials surveyed ranked money their top consideration when evaluating a job opportunity, respondents weren’t especially concerned with prestigious job titles, corner offices or other status symbols.  However, nearly three-quarters of Gen Y professionals worried about being able to balance a career with personal obligations.  Programs that can help employees do this, such as telecommuting, compressed workweeks or alternative scheduling options, can be key selling points for firms, particularly those that aren’t able to compete with other organizations in terms of compensation.

Demonstrate how they’ll grow.
About half of survey respondents expected to spend no more than one to two years “paying their dues” in entry-level jobs.  But that doesn’t mean Millennials need a fast track to the top.  Rather, they want to see how they will be able to learn and grow, so be sure to make note of training and professional development programs, as well as the career paths available to new employees.  For example, you might let a prospective production artist know that your firm pays for all team members to attend a design conference of their choosing.  Or you might point out employees who have worked their way up within the organization.  Mentoring programs also are attractive to Millennials; consider developing a formal one in your department or, if your organization has many locations, try an e-mentoring program.

Use a “hands-on” management style.
Millennials are accustomed to direct, ongoing supervision and guidance from parents, teachers and other authority figures in their lives. They want a similar relationship with their bosses. In fact, 35% of those surveyed want to communicate with the boss several times a day. Because Gen Y employees have high expectations for their managers, pairing them with your best supervisors will help keep them satisfied and productive. Management tactics that are likely to bring out the best performance in these staff members include:
•    Offering constant feedback. Immediate input helps motivate these individuals. Instead of waiting for annual performance reviews, offer “spot” reviews as projects are completed.
•    Being open and authoritative. Like most workers, those in this group enjoy a friendly manager who gives advice and provides support.  But they don’t like pushovers:  They want their bosses to clearly be the ones in charge.
•    Communicating in a straightforward way. Growing up, they were apt to question things and received open responses from their parents. Consequently, Millenials expect honesty and candor from their managers.
•    Walking the talk. This group wants to work for companies that act true to their values; they are suspicious of corporate announcements not backed up by clear action.

Like employees of all generations, Gen Y professionals want to make contributions to their employers, and, in return, they expect to receive help in achieving their professional goals. Make sure you give entry-level creatives assignments that stretch their skills and allow them to develop competencies such as leadership, business management and client service. Also try to make day-to-day activities diverse; Gen Y professionals grew up with a high level of stimulation (TV, video games, the Internet) and can become disengaged if they’re not challenged.

Similar to the generations before them, Generation Y will bring their own brand of values and ideals to the world of work.  Companies that make an effort to understand and act upon these professionals’ viewpoints will find themselves with a dedicated and ambitious group of creatives.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and Web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms.