Generation Y - What Companies Need to Know

Notes from the Field #1/2016

Download Notes #1/2016

Does social engagement make a company more attractive? Generation Y - What Companies Need to Know

Two thirds of the members of Generation Y – people born between 1985 and 2000 – say they want to leave their current employer by 2020. This development, which has been confirmed by numerous studies, is pushing businesses to figure out how they can encourage these leaders and innovators of tomorrow to remain with the company for the long term.

Otherwise they run the risk of falling behind in the ever-intensifying competition for qualified staff and, ultimately, for clients. In order to strengthen the sense of company loyalty on the part of the Generation Y, also known as millennials, employers need to understand what sets this generation apart from others, what its values and goals are and how millennilas want to develop themselves.

According to a study of university graduates by Kienbaum, a consultancy, two thirds of the millennials surveyed valued a cordial work atmosphere and 61% a good work-life balance, while 59% said attractive career prospects were particularly important.1 Is this what differentiates this generation from its predecessors and is causing it to attract so much public attention around the world?

Professor Klaus Hurrelmann, who has spent a number of years studying this generation, believes that its members are both more international and more mobile than their predecessors, while also attaching greater importance to their private lives and families. In their professional lives members of Generation Y feel a greater sense of loyalty to their own network and life plan than to a company‘s strategic goals. Businesses must adapt to these lifestyles and respond to Generation Y’s preferences with flexibility and appealing tasks.
A further discovery is that Generation Y wants to have a social impact. Many of them have the impression, however, that most companies have no purpose beyond the pursuit of profit.

A survey of graduates conducted by Deloitte established that even when companies make a substantial effort to communicate a different message, there is a strong contrast between the way a business would like to be and is actually perceived.2 Obviously, this generation expects more of its employers.

These and other characteristics of Generation Y are also examined in the 2015 Millennial Impact Report. The report is focusing in particular on the role of Generation Y as a driving force for social engagement in the workplace. Derrick Feldmann, author and director of the Millennial Impact Report, responds to three important questions:3

50 %

…of the working population in the year 2020 will be made up of Generation Y - 4

50 %

…of Generation Y is influenced by a company‘s social engagement when deciding whether to take a job - 4

77 %

…of working millennials would participate in corporate social engagement as long as they are able to make good use of their individual skills and experiences - 5

41 %

…of Generation Y prefers electronic communication to telephone calls, or even to face-to-face meetings - 5

When people talk about Generation Y or conduct studies on this group, does the label adequately cover everyone born between 1985 and 2000? The answer is unequivocally no, since the “Generation Y” described in the majority of studies comprises western individuals from a relatively higher social class holding university degrees.

It is highly doubtful, for example, that an 18-year-old apprentice from an immigrant background whose parents have a relatively low level of education would count himself as a member of Generation Y. This should not be forgotten when talking about “Generation Y” as a group. Nevertheless, there is certainly change afoot in this generation – but it remains to be seen what the result will be.

Ultimately it is clear that for Generation Y career, influence and social values are highly important. For companies looking to attract and retain this generation, it is therefore important to recognise that authentic, impact-oriented social engagement can make a substantial contribution to reducing turnover of Generation Y employees.

The topic of how to make prospective Generation Y employees excited about a company is one that we have explored with experts in the past. If you would like to find out more about how this kind of engagement strategy could be developed and implemented, for example in a strategy workshop with our partner Derrick Feldmann from Achieve, please get in touch.