Go for the Parents
Much has been written about Generation Y or millenials and how different their work ethic is from that of older workers. Gen Y'ers, individuals born between 1980 and 2000, are now entering the workforce, and hiring managers are finding it difficult to attract, motivate and retain such workers even as the current workforce ages and dwindles by attrition.
Described as well educated, technologically-savvy, talented, idealistic and optimistic, these workers do not believe in selling their souls to any one employer. They will eschew rigid schedules for a life-work balance any day, and think employers need to value the employee's interests and needs as much as the employees value the employer's.
Typically Gen Y'ers will work long hours days on end if they have a goal in mind, but will demand to have their weekend off to go to a concert with friends, for example. In their view, both work and play are important and there should be no need to sacrifice one totally for the other. A friend of mine explained that boomers were very concerned with equal rights, equitable treatment and high self-esteem, hence the mantra: "I am OK, you are OK." Millenials, he joked, would more likely say, "You are OK, I am perfect!"
One reason for the difference in values and world view of millenials is they were raised by boomers and Gen X'ers who doted on them and crafted their lives carefully with lots of involvement and oversight from kindergarten through college. Consequently, even adult millenials will often consult parents before making important decisions.
Writer Tammy Erickson, who has done research on Gen Y'ers, suggests one way of getting to Gen Y'ers is by appealing to their parents. She points out many companies and even the U.S. Army are attempting to woo Gen Y'ers by appealing to their parents.
Among Erickson's suggestion are the following strategies:
- distribute packs of information for parents to students at universities and job fairs;
- hold a career fair in your community designed specifically for parents;
- create special FAQ material directed at parents' likely questions and concerns (retirement, health benefits, 401(k) plans, educational opportunities and so on);
- hold parent orientation sessions or conference calls;
- invite parents of interns and new hires to visit the Y's place of work and meet the boss and colleagues;
- provide the staffing necessary to follow through with parent requests;
- run ads communicating your positive attributes as an employer aimed at parents;
- provide incentives for parents to refer their children (beginning with your current employees--if your current employees won't refer their own children, consider whether you really are a good employer); and
- include parents in employee benefits.