I’ve often heard from Gen Xers and Baby Boomers that Gen Ys have very little sense of loyalty, how they would quit their jobs for monetary incentives, and that by the time a Gen-Yer reaches 30, they would have 7-10 jobs. A company would put in so much effort, energy and money just to recruit this tech-savvy generation, but sees the hard work become futile as it fails to retain them for more than two years. What’s wrong with this generation? Why can’t companies with billions worth of revenue satisfy their needs? Here are my 4 reasons why Gen-Ys are less loyal to their employers than previous generations:
1. The Gen-Ys have observed that corporations are not loyal to them either.
Companies stress employee loyalty, but the Gen-Ys have their eyes open on how the companies will do anything to make more profits. IT World says it well when they stated “Generation Y saw first-hand what their Baby Boomer and older Gen X parents got for their loyalty to their employers during economic downturns: bupkus. They saw their parents get laid off. They saw their parents’ pensions disappear. They saw their parents get meager severance packages.” When a company does everything it cans to make already-richer people richer, the Gen-Ys feel no pain in finding something that pay their bills better.
2. The Gen-Ys feel that they are not put into the environment that uses their best skills for the best reasons.
I always say people work for two reasons: one for money, and two for making life meaningful. Making one’s life more meaningful involves using her best skills for purposes she believes in. When Gen-Ys enter large corporations as “analysts” and “associates,” they are pinned down to do all the grunt work all day, what we know as “paying their dues.” Even though it is completely understandable that someone in the company has to do the grunt work, and obviously it should be those young ones that just joined the company recently, the Gen-Ys don’t think its the best use of their most vibrant years.
I’ll say it straight-forwardly: Gen-Ys are smarter than Gen-Xs and Boomers, comparing the average person at the same age. No, they’re not born smarter, but think about how much information goes through their brain everyday. In the old days, if you were curious about something, you had to go to the library (maybe without a car), look through the indexes, find the right book, and find the right page. Most people would give up on that curiosity. But the Gen-Ys are used to just making a few clicks and reading everything there is about the subject on the internet since they were in Kindergarten. They have more problem-solving games than Gen-X and Boomers, who are more acquainted to outdoor physical activities, and they can spread their knowledge to other Gen-Ys way more efficiently than the older generations ever could. When the boomers were in high school, how many of them could hack into government properties or start a IT consulting business? It is for this reason, Gen-Ys are often very capable of doing very complex and technically advanced things and they expect to do more than they are given.
3. The Gen-Ys are acquainted to dream bigger.
Gen-Ys grew up with a lot more media, including video games, movies, and successes of legendary men. They are constantly immersed in a virtual environment where they play a hero and conquer great quests. They often see superheros save the world. All the literature and successes they learned about has made them big dreamers: they can do great things in life, even save the world! This is why Gen-Ys are so involved about Sustainability and Socially Responsible entities. The motto goes, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
4. The Gen-Ys have more information and opportunities.
Because of their uses of the internet, Social Media and the likes, Gen-Ys have way more opportunities (hence choices) than other generations. Sites like Monster, Vault and FD Career all help them find new jobs and careers. In addition, the adaptation of blogging (best way to build your personal brand), twittering, and utilizing social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn has created ample chances of recruiters “poking” them or “tweeting” them about a new position. When you get 3-4 offers a week trying to outmatch your stingy boss who look down upon you, who wouldn’t reconsider?
So what can you do as an employer? The key is to treat them like grownups instead of children. Yes, they might lack 10 years of experience compared to you. But if you learned how to use the pistol for 10 years, you still shouldn’t just make a new guy who knows how to use the machine gun shine your shoes. If you respect their advice and give them a bit of high level work every once in awhile, Gen-Ys are OK with doing grunt work, AS LONG as they see how this grunt work contributes to the big picture. Gen-Ys hate being in the dark with no questions asked.
You should make sure that the Gen-Ys feel like teammates instead of slaves, and that you are offering a platform to dream big. Offer your company up as the best way to fulfill their dreams. Have them combine their dreams with the goal of the company. If you are able to convince them that you are loyal to them and respect their dreams and abilities, Gen-Ys are more than happy to make your company the greatest in the world. Afterall, they’ve been waiting for that opportunity for a decade growing up.