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Leadership needs the X and Y factors
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Leadership needs the X and Y factors

THE LEADERSHIP styles of Australian managers will have to change in order to attract and retain skilled Generation X and Y workers, a leading human resources expert has warned.Unlike their…

THE LEADERSHIP styles of Australian managers will have to change in order to attract and retain skilled Generation X and Y workers, a leading human resources expert has warned.

Unlike their predecessors, Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) and Generation Y (born after 1980) do not expect to have jobs for life and are driven by a different set of priorities.

They are less likely to stick with an unsatisfactory work situation and would rather be self employed than work for a bad manager, according to Avril Henry, executive director of AH Revelations.

Speaking at a Sydney business breakfast, hosted by Robert Half International, Henry explained that as a result these groups responded better to certain styles of leadership.

“Generations X and Y are firstly loyal to their career path, and secondly to a great manager or team. ‘Gen X’ responds well to ‘effective’ leadership and ‘Gen Y’ craves ‘inspirational’ leadership. Both want leaders who listen and involve them,” she said.

Finding leaders who fit this profile will take organisations time and effort, especially as certain leadership groups - particularly at board level — often tend to be from the “Veteran” demographic (those born before 1946). The Veterans are often resistant to change and still dominated by Anglo-Saxon 50-plus year-old men.

Organisations must employ and develop leaders who will excel at attracting and retaining the new workforce generations. “The existence of different generational groups within the workforce makes for a dynamic and challenging experience for Australian managers,” Henry said.

She advised managers to be acutely aware of the different views and values each generation holds on career, family, work-life balance, flexibility and loyalty, and to espouse these accordingly, while taking advantage of the assets each can bring to the organisation.

“Organisations need to invest in training and development for managers, placing particular emphasis on ‘soft’ skills, such as performance management and conflict resolution,” she said.

The new generations are also less likely to repeat the perceived mistakes of their Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964) predecessors. ‘Gen X’ witnessed their parents’ retrenchments in the early ‘90s and now view organisations as “uncaring”. Consequently, they put their career before their loyalty to an employer.

Melinda Finch is the Deputy Editor of Human Resources magazine, Lawyers Weeklys sister publication.

Old rules dont reign in recruiting Generation Y

EMPLOYERS AND RECRUITERS need to tune in to Generation Y’s unique characteristics and create a recruitment program tailored to their preferences, according to Hays Legal.

A Hays Legal survey of over 1,200 people revealed that while Generation Y, like the rest of the workforce, believes in its own worth and perceives it as being above the market average, it is aware that there are skills shortages and will make the most of opportunities that lie open as a result.

“Skills shortages are dominating the employment market and many employers are facing staffing challenges,” said Kristine Luke, general manager of Hays Legal.

“Generation Y are the young recruits of today who are the future of our skilled candidate base. But this generation differs from the remainder of today’s workforce in many ways and to compete for these candidates now and in the future, employers and recruiters alike need to tune it [to their needs],” she said.

Many of the old rules in recruiting won’t work for Generation Y, the survey suggested. As these people have witnessed the skills shortage in the media, they realise they have increased leverage in terms of benefits and work environment, said Luke.

“Branding, what an organisation can offer and honesty and respect are all part of the recruiting equation, as well as ongoing learning and development,” she said.

By Kate Gibbs

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