A ‘ONE SIZE fits all’ approach to managing staff of different generations is not going to make the grade, especially considering the current candidate shortage, according to LINK HR Consulting general manager June Parker.
She said many businesses made the mistake of putting money into graduate programs to attract quality young staff, but didn’t put in the effort to find out what motivated those young people to remain as part of the team once they were employed. The situation was particularly common in law firms, which must hire from different generations, in order to have an even spread of staff across different years of experience.
“A business that spruiks the fact that it provides extended maternity and parenting leave is all well and good, but for its Generation Y employees that is probably the last thing on their mind,” Parker said at the recent Centre for Economic Development’s Workplace of the Future seminar.
“It is common sense really — obviously the types of things that are going to be attractive to the predominantly Gen Y staff in an IT company are going to be very different to the baby boomer staff in a public service department.”
Parker said baby boomer partners must be trained to recognise that Generation Y staff are different from them, and the features that would keep someone under 35 loyal to the firm would be different from those of people who were employed five years before them.
“Partners stay in an organisation for years, they are very loyal, but Generation Y [employees] move around more quickly, Parker said.
“They want things like recognition of a job well done, [to be] kept informed of how the firm is going, strong social networks and to be involved in project teams.”
Most importantly, if they don’t feel they are getting the stimulation or culture they want, they will move on.
“Loyalty doesn’t exist, and if they do leave, they will find a job in three seconds flat,” Parker said. But there are easy ways to keep young people engaged and happy at work.
Ad hoc recognition such as a day off work, or dinner with their team as a reward for a job well done, or organising offsite training events all serve to make employees feel appreciated and increase their enjoyment of their workplace.
“Management is often one of the reasons employees leave,” Parker said.
“The younger age group is going to be more and more in demand, they will be able to pick and choose more — especially lawyers.”