Gen Y Hardest to Hire and Retain - Robert Half

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Generation Y are the hardest to hire and retain compared to their baby boomed and Gen X peers. Read the full article by Robert Half here.

Compared to their Baby Boomer and Gen X peers, Gen Y employees are the hardest to hire and retain within finance and accounting roles in Australia according to research released today by specialist finance and accounting recruitment firm, Robert Half. However, contrary to popular perception, their career priorities are not markedly different from more experienced employees.

Of 300 CFOs and finance directors surveyed, 38% believe Gen Y employees to be the most difficult to recruit into finance and accounting roles, compared with Gen X (24%) and Baby Boomers (10%).

Once hired, nearly half (49%) of executives said that Gen Y staff are the hardest to retain, compared with Gen X (18%) and Baby Boomers (6%).

Sixty-two percent of employers attributed the challenge with retention to high expectations among Gen Y employees for career advancement, followed by expectations for remuneration (53%) and work-life balance (41%).

“As more Gen Y professionals enter the market, companies need to adapt their hiring strategies to attract and retain these staff,” said Andrew Morris, Director for Queensland and Western Australia at Robert Half. “This means thinking beyond purely financial incentives and considering formal career planning, mentoring and coaching as part of the total package.”

Little difference in priorities across generations

However, companies need to be careful not to alienate more tenured employees by appearing to pander to the needs of the Millennial generation. While Baby Boomers and Gen X may be easier to retain, they do not expect their careers to stand still. In fact, the priorities of more experienced employees closely match the expectations of Gen Y.

Eighty-eight percent of financial executives who cited challenges in retaining Baby Boomers attributed the difficulty to high expectations for career advancement, followed by expectations for remuneration (71%) and work-life balance (47%).

Gen X employees showed a similar pattern to Gen Y. Of employers who said that retaining Gen X was a challenge, 63% cited career advancement, followed by expectations for remuneration (43%) and work-life balance (39%).

“Ambition is no substitute for experience,” said Andrew Morris. “Tenured employees are a huge asset to any company. They have worked hard to build their skills and, as they look to round out their careers, they expect to be recognised and rewarded.”

Their expectations are not ungrounded. In addition to formal accounting qualifications, financial decision-makers place a high premium on management (56%) and leadership (46%) experience when filling finance and accounting roles.

“Gen Y professionals cannot expect instant career gratification through advancement,” concluded Morris. “Companies should provide skills development and coaching, but they also need to take care not to neglect their more experienced employees.”

Robert Half offers six recommendations for managing cross generational teams:

1. Look for different ways to empower people. Gen Y employees tend to prefer regular feedback and the opportunity to take on roles that leverage their strengths, especially in digital and social media environments. Gen X and Baby Boomers appreciate opportunities to build their people and leadership skills.

2. Set up informal cross training or coaching sessions so employees of different generations can share their respective areas of expertise. Sometimes the best ideas can come from a fresh graduate, a veteran with 20 years of industry experience or someone in between.

3. Allow employees at all levels opportunities to expand their skills through a mix of in-house training and subsidised education.

4. Assist employees in developing project workflows that accommodate differing work styles. Some employees may prefer to work in a largely digital environment while others prefer more traditional styles of sharing documents and ideas.

5. Encourage mentoring in both directions, not just ‘top down’. A Gen Y employee, for example, may volunteer to mentor a more senior colleague on using online collaboration tools or social media platforms in the workplace.

6. Allow baby-boomers to take on transitional roles prior to retirement such as consultant or trainer, to pass on their knowledge to less experienced employees.

Robert Half Australia is the world's leading specialised recruitment firm and the first to provide placement services for accounting, finance and information technology professionals. We also provide a number of salary guides including IT salary guides, accounting salary guides and finance salary guides.

Take a look at our "generation why" infographic.

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Jill Unikel
Robert Half
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