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.


Portrait of a businessman sitting in front of a computer in an office and smiling Model Release: Yes Property Release: NA


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.

Views: 28

Comment by Jim McNees on June 8, 2010 at 11:20pm
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.
Comment by Adam Lewis on June 9, 2010 at 1:18am
I couldn't agree more, Jim. While everyone loves talking about how companies need to understand their Gen Y consuners, it's just as important to understand their Gen Y employees.

But a mix of workers from different 'generations' is a tremendous opportunity; as I've previously blogged, a diverse workforce is a better workforce.

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