Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Bang for your Buck

You can get the most out of your Gen Y employees by trying to understand them and then utilizing the strengths they carry to truly dive deep into company opportunities or strengths. Too often I feel that the Generation gap creates an uncomfortable medium between previous ways of business and personnel management that Generation Y mind set belongs to.

More often than not (and many studies have shown) Gen Y’s top priority in working for an organization is not $$. This says a lot in context to the fact that there are many rising “stars” and high performers in most organization’s Gen Y population. These high performing skills are overlooked or not fully tapped because they’re inability to match and appropriately react to the organization’s set culture and politics or lack the humility and or patience.

It’s so important though, to keep these people resources within your organization and to further enhance the person’s ability to deliver results, instead of brushing off the entire package because of age or culture match. Patience has never been a stereotype of Gen Y and neither has loyalty but most high performing Generation Y’ers will often struggle with leaving a company they believe in and especially if they are confident in what they could do if given the opportunity to create the change needed.

From the business perspective:

It’s expensive to replace employees, especially ones that have been performing for you for many years, because in addition to the cost of hiring and training a replacement your also paying for the loss of results for the time it takes the replacement to get up and running. The largest cost comes from having this high performing Generation Y employee going to another organization and delivering results to another company or worse driving the same results to a competitor, ‘cause let’s face it - A high performing Gen Y’er will quickly and easily procure another comparable position with relative ease.

One of the key differences in the professional history of the generations is the amount of job hopping that Gen Y will do vs Gen X and significantly more vs Baby Boomers who tend to be the current senior leaders in most organizations. So knowing this is the root problem for productivity and cost effectiveness from the overall organization’s point of view. Losing high performers is never easy but losing your Gen Y high performer can be more detrimental because they can and usually come far and in between. High performing Gen Y’ers have the ability to bridge the gap from senior leaders to other Gen Y’ers and if they’re not satiated they can and will leave for other opportunities - and most high performing or savvy young professionals will, can and have started their own companies if they feel that viable options are not available. Creating an even bigger loss in productivity and potential rise in threat level from competing businesses or revenue drivers to your company.

In the end addressing this issue should be handled like any other problem that an organization faces not just as an HR issue. Personnel problems and costs will become increasingly problematic if the proper systems are not in place to retain the Generation Y demographic within your organization.

From the Gen Y Perpective:

Finding value and satisfaction in what you do vs finding value and satisfaction in other organizations while balancing the cost/benefit of salary and amenities. If you understand what I’m talking about then you are the Gen Y that I’m talking about.

How do you know when is enough actually enough? is the grass greener on the other side? How much are you willing to risk? and how bad do you really want what you want?

I find that most of the young professionals I encounter day in and day out have a very high sense of self worth and a very keen understanding of their place in an organization’s hierarchy. Most of the times though its with a “group think” mentality meaning that generally speaking not all high performing Gen Y’ers even want the highest salary or the highest title. They prioritize being valued, being integral, having the ability to impact and influence, and job satisfaction at a higher level.

So if your struggling with your career or retention I offer you a quick exercise that I use when I’m at a crossroad. What is it that you want? I ask myself “if I had _______ I’d be so happy”. What you put in that blank is usually not even what it is your looking for, it’s simply a means to obtain what you actually need to be content. For example I’ve been courted by several companies recently to join their organizations. Usually this is a no brainer because I love what I do and truly believe in Starbucks and desire to move up, but the companies that have asked have been more than interesting to me. It made me double check my status and situation and really assess my “happiness” at my current organization.

In the end I filled the blank in with “a promotion” but the promotion is not necessarily what is going to make me happy - it’s the indirect benefits that come from it.

-Challenge/Job Satisfaction

-Larger area of impact/influence/responsibility

-Higher Salary

-Change of Pace/Something New

-Status of Title

I know this is a very specific example and it won’t be the same for everyone but I wanted to share because it’s much easier for me to navigate my choices and life this way and I hope it helps other young professionals. As Gen Y’ers we tend to be more complex in our needs and obtain the confidence to demand it. That self worth can be used to do amazing things but it can also lead us to quicker than needed decisions.


Gen Y’ers are the future workforce and we need to cultivate a compromising system to allow for avenues of growth. Look at HP creating YEN (young employee network) and also allowing for the option of switching job type (lateral movements) every two years to all their employees. Ideas like that are the start of long term retention and cost saving, and cost savings is something that this recession has taught all businesses to be much more savvy about. It’s usually not a line item on business P&L statements but losing performers and the indirect influence they have on the overall organization can truly be a huge savings in cost as well as the building blocks to sustainable growth.