How to reach and retain the social media generation

Generation Y, the iPod generation, echo boomers – this new wave of employees is steadily filtering into the workplace and replacing the baby boomers. Generation Y are widely defined as being aged around 18-30 years old, having been born to baby boomers, and many are recent graduates and students. This generation will soon be the heart of your company, so to succeed in the future you need to start focusing on how to attract and retain this group now.
 
This generation have many defining characteristics which set them apart from predeceasing generation X. They are more likely to put their careers first and are consequently having babies and marrying later. They are the social media generation, who like to be connected at all times and socialising is a top priority – actual or virtual. However the main challenge generation Y employees bring to the workplace is possible low retention rates. Over half of this generation are looking to leave their job within 1 year (http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1018457/half-generation-y-plan-career-moves), and many may be looking for jobs short term – they are always alert to new opportunities and ways to improve their skill set, and are prepared to move jobs to achieve this. Furthermore, 36% have taken jobs they are unhappy with (http://www.hrzone.co.uk/topic/managing-people/under-30s-feel-exploited-and-disengaged/111685?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Hrzonecouk+%28HRZone+-+All%29&utm_content=Google+Reader), and this group is the most likely to be stressed and feel under pressure at work. These factors mean retention rates are likely to be lower in this generation and employers may find they need to work harder to keep them.
 
Reward and recognition schemes should be tailored to include the needs of generation Y. They have a strong need for feedback and respond well to this, so build this into your scheme. They want to learn new skills and work on their personal improvement so an excellent way to engage them is with training and development opportunities. This will help satisfy their need for career development and show them that they can progress within the company. Think about what rewards they will be motivated by – saving rewards will go down well, as will rewards focusing on a social aspect such as team events. By focusing your efforts now on attracting and retaining this group, you will be setting yourself in a strong position for the future.

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