(PRWEB) December 11, 2008
Many employers are seeing a new generation of scholarship seekers who value no strings attached (with no bond period) arrangements. In fact, once prized for their guaranteed employment and growth prospects, scholarship bonds are now often seen as constraints to many scholarship applicants.
Whereas scholarships used to be a sure-fire way to attract top talents, they no longer guarantee that scholarship holders would join and contribute to the sponsoring company after completion of their studies. As such, scholarships can be heavy investments with no assurance of returns for employers.
All the same, employers are desperate to hire and retain talented young workers facing the reality of a rapidly aging workforce, and many are at a lost. How then can employers attract and retain top young talents?
1. Understanding the Gen Y Workers
Employers may want to first gain a better understanding of this new generation of workers, according to human resource experts. Scholarship applicants, undergraduates and fresh graduates normally fall into a group that many are now calling the "Generation Y" (Gen Y). Also known as echo boomers and millennials in the United States, they are born between 1977 and 2002.
Gen Ys have yet to reach their 30s, and the first wave of Gen Ys have just started on their careers. They are among the youngest in many workplaces, and are often seen as smart and brash.
This is a generation that has been encouraged to speak their minds, ask questions, and generally be expressive and outspoken. They are taught that creativity is often rewarded and being a follower would not get you anywhere.
In a recent Singapore Human Resources Institute study* , it was found that the top three weaknesses that parents, colleagues and Gen Ys themselves see in Gen Y workers are that they are individualistic, proud and always late. However, Gen Ys' employers see them as individualistic, proud and disloyal.
A book titled Managing Generation Y by Dr Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan also points out some Gen Y traits:
- High expectations of self: They aim to work faster and better than other workers.
- High expectations of employers: They want fair and direct managers who are highly engaged in their professional development.
- Ongoing learning: They seek out creative challenges and view colleagues as vast resources from whom to gain knowledge.
- Immediate responsibility: They want to make an important impact on Day One.
- Goal-oriented: They want small goals with tight deadlines so they can build up ownership of tasks.
Tulgan, who is founder of RainmakerThinking and an expert in young people in the workplace, believes that Gen Ys require high maintenance, but they also deliver high performance.
There are few key things that Gen Ys value when applying for a job. Although they place a high priority in career success, Gen Ys prefer to make their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want flexibility in hours, telecommuting options and also the choice to go part-time or temporarily leave the workforce when they have children.
Gen Y is a generation of multi-taskers. They are used to juggling several tasks at the same time, especially with the help of modern technologies. They are familiar with personal devices like MP3 players and Personal Digital Assistants. They grew up with the Internet, and social networking tools like Facebook and Friendster are part and parcel to their lifestyles.
Most importantly, Gen Ys believe in their own self worth, and they are not shy about trying to make changes in their workplace if they think that it would enhance productivity or efficiency.
2. Embracing Change
In general, employers need to explore new ways to recruit and retain the best of the Gen Y workers. They need to sell on qualities at their workplace that is attractive to this group of workers.
In the US where Gen Y makes up 70 million people entering or who have recently entered the workforce, many companies are already reaching out to college students by telling them about company benefits such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and online work tools. Others are promoting their companies by emphasising on time-off as rewards and recognition for creative thinking.
More drastically, employers may want to reinvent their company cultures and work towards embracing change. Companies that are slow to react risk being left behind and seen as slow in evolving by this new generation of workers.
Finally, in order to be a workplace of choice for top Gen Y talents, companies need to encourage and welcome workers who actively find solutions to problems, question outdated protocols and celebrate result-oriented thinking.