Y oh Y won’t you stay?
Gen Y, the Echo Boomers, the late teens and under 30s in the Australian workforce hold an annual turnover rate of 40 per cent. Those aged between 20-24 are three times more likely to change jobs in a year than those aged 45 – 54. Alarmingly, two thirds of workers in their 20s leave their current job after less than two years of employment.
Are they too busy ‘twitching’ to their uber connectivity to all things social? Is it because they believe they are the ‘entitled generation’? Or are they to be accurately tagged as the generation of ‘Why Bother’?
Cal Newport in his article ‘Solving Gen Y’s Passion Problem’ contends that Gen Y is the generation of the misinformed.
Newport contends that having been raised on the mantra of ‘follow your passion’, Gen Y are now coming into the workforce expecting their jobs to be instantly fulfilling and gratifying. After all, they’ve followed their passion into candidate placement. However, when they become disappointed with their job, Gen Y-ers leave in search of the passion they were promised.
While instant and complete job satisfaction is not the most realistic of goals there are ways that employers can improve Gen Ys first impressions of the workplace and in doing so improve the Gen Y retention rate.
The traditional workplace operation is frequently at odds with the working-desires of Gen Y. Growing up constantly overstimulated, and used to multitasking they need changing and challenging work to keep them engaged and motivated. Doing the same thing every day is not an option for this generation.
Being committed to self-growth and personal development, Echo Boomers need a sense of how they are contributing to the success of the organisation they are in and they need to know how their work is meaningful. Plain directives will not suffice for Gen Ys, they want to know why they are doing what they’re doing.
Gen Ys find the typical 9 to 5 daily grind stifling and unnecessary. Often called Digital Natives, their comfort with technology allows them to see how the great interconnectivity of the modern day, in most cases, allow them to work wherever and whenever they feel most productive. Ideally, Gen Ys would like at least some flexibility in the hours and locations they work in.
In the end, changes need to be made to the workplace in order to reduce the high turnover rate in the workforce’s newest members. And businesses need to realise that engagement is a multi-generational tool that needs to be customised by demographic, region, gender, and generations alike.
Embrace the Gen Y debate, listen to their requirements and change things where and when you can!
 HBR Blog Network, 18 September 2012