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Professionals with a twist

There is something special about the Generation Y technical professionals. They call us millennials, and outside of general stereotypes about these generations, the following is information that could come in handy to any employer seeking to recruit and retain young technical talent.

Traits to keep in mind

No matter which people you are trying to recruit, web developers, engineers, UX Architects, here are some basic traits you should keep in mind during your recruitment process:

They know their value, and the market reminds them continuously – the openings for web professionals are on a rise, especially with the boost in web entrepreneurship. Most of us receive numerous job opportunities every week and with the constant availability of jobs, employers should keep up with the market not just for new employees, but also for their current staff, especially their pay is lagging behind their performance, years on the job, or responsibilities.

Desire for innovation – a significant percentage of young web developers and engineers dream of starting their own business one day. Remember, they learned the tools of the trade on their own, the entrepreneurial spirit is the reason why they went into web engineering in the first place. No that does not meant they are going to steal your own business plan, ideas, and employees to go start one in a few months. It actually means that many of them may frustrated with the inability of companies to embrace innovation. Even small opportunities within your organization to do something that leaves a trace will be appreciated and most likely than not, those may be sources of revenue for you. Just ask 37 Signals which switched from an agency to a product development company and Google which has converted 20% of designated employee innovation time into the majority of its current product line.

Gen. Y techies are project rather than time oriented – The current educational system has trained us well to be that way, and our parents have shown us the difficulties in achieving work/life balance. That is why they don’t care about the 8-5 work week, they care about lifestyle and efficiency. Getting projects DONE efficiently so that they can enjoy life for what it can offer.
This means that incentive plans based on efficiency and project quality will allow you to both finish projects on time, and on budget. Add flexible work hours to the picture, and proper time keeping and quality criteria and you have a team-machine, that will deliver and be extremely happy to do so.

Motivating factors

Here are some key categories that win companies significant bonus points with new recruits and current employees. The more of those you offer the more attractive you will be to high quality brains. Think about these from the 2 out of 3 rule. If you have all 3 categories from each nest, you have nothing to worry about. If you have 2, you are competitive, but if you have only 1, it’d better be the best one available on the market.

1. The Job

i. Responsibilities
ii. Title
iii. Opportunities for innovation / portfolio worthy work
iv. Opportunities for learning and growth

2. The Company

i. Name / Product recognition
ii. Work environment – flex time, growth and impact opportunities
iii. People – many will take less pay to be able to work with inspiring people who are mentors, are respectful, and are a pleasure to work with

3. The Paycheck
Don’t get the wrong idea, Gen X Y are not more money hungry than any other generation out there. But they do to value time and opportunity cost. They are full of energy and ideas, and would rather invest 100% and more of their time, into your company, and be rewarded for it, than be asked to work less, and as a result have to do things on the side to truly fulfill their time and potential.

i. Strong starting pay – Gen Y have seen their parents go through layoffs and they know most companies don’t invest in their employees much after the recruitment process. That is why they would choose a strong starting pay, to not-yet substantiated promise for growth any day of the week. If they are to invest most of their time and pull in industry demanding 60 hour weeks, pay is a strong motivator to do so and be still efficient and motivated to go above and beyond for their current employer. Also considering the fact that they continue to receive offers from people who find them on the web or LinkedIn after being hired, solid pay and motivation will prevent turnover caused by luring new offers.
ii. Performance based bonuses – there is nothing better to boost motivation for work than rewards for what you love and are successful at doing, especially if you go over and above to get the job done well.
iii. Pay that keeps up with the market.- It is a proven statistical fact that efficiency increases with experience. In fact every repetition of a task may reduce the time of performance by 25% on average according to the Boston Consulting Group on Strategy. Why waste the effect this rule has on your staff, by ignoring your current and experienced performers while chasing new people with high salaries? Invest in retention and expect to see efficiency and loyalty bring about your turnover rates and boost performance.

In summary Generation Y is a different breed than their parents and other generations.

1. They are ready to give 100%+ and no less – if the company does not keep up, those employees are likely to start building their own projects on the side,
2. Likely to work hard and party hard – employers can either leave that fact to the site or utilize it to boost morale. By offering games and team outings, companies will benefit from added loyalty and high performance output
3. How to Build Loyalty in your staff: loyalty with employees is similar to loyalty exhibited in product customers: it is build over time. Here are some general guidelines:

a. It begins with the hiring process
b. Clearly set career paths and performance tracking – motivated work comes in the pursuit of clearly set career goals
c. Continues with encouragement of performance on the side of the employer for the hard dedicated work put in by the high performers
d. Frequent performance evaluations – Generation Y appreciates feedback because as I mentioned above they strive for improvement and efficiency
e. Performance based incentives
f. Opportunities for innovation, and rewards for it
g. Flexible work conditions – opportunities to work from home, and stimulus to their ability to be effective and efficient
h. Intrapreneurship (internal Entrepreneurship) Stimulated by the Employer – few employers realize the entrepreneurial potential within their Gen Y employees. We burst with creative energy and those who are able to strap it in by sponsoring internal projects and innovation will benefit immensely. Allowing your employees to work on innovative projects would also retain many who would rather leave and start their own company than stay and be bored or undervalued.

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Posted by: Diana Zink on Tuesday, 3rd Jun, 2008

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