Retaining Generation Y

Why Do Large Corporations Struggle To Attract Gen Y?

‘Generation Y are the future and we must retain them at all cost’. HR directors across the globe are screaming this to their staff as we speak in the pursuit to retain key Generation Y staff.  But realistically why do specific large corps struggle to retain and attract Generation Y? What is it they are actually doing wrong and what should they change?

Having experienced working in a large, traditional corporation it’s difficult for them to change overnight to adhere and match Generation Y.  Ultimately we see the world a little different and no longer do we see work as an ‘ends to a means’. Work and life become one and Gen Y strives for work which fulfils.

Essentially large corporations have a lot of work to do to appeal to Generation Y who lean towards the self employed/start up mentality. Why? Simply because these type of environments are typically more averse to the lifestyle Generation Y want to lead.

I’m obviously going by my experience here and that of my colleagues however I have identified a number of points as to why large corporations are missing out on the real stellar members of staff. Not just this but why they are struggling to retain key Generation Y talent; leaving HR’s scratching their head.

Promotions all based on ‘experience’:

Will this ever change? Probably not.  Sure this is me judging the corporate world but largely from my experience promotions are purely based on your experience either internal or external. You may be an absolute genius with some revolutionary ideas but have you paid your ‘dues?’ within marketing?

Now don’t get me wrong some companies are ‘getting this’. I saw a recent advertisement for Lyle and Scott a UK fashion brand who were recruiting a head of marketing role and the job advert specific said they wanted ‘game changers’ and not well travelled old school marketing directors. Now that’s cool.

Now I’m not saying all promotions should go to the kid who is pretty snazzy on Facebook with the boy band haircut but more attention should be made to the industry, the end goal and who has the right skills set to match the development of the company. In a digital capacity especially Generation Y has that in abundance.

Change is almost never seen as ‘positive’:

Generation Y embrace change however large corporations are notorious for having a slow changing environment. Infrastructure, job roles, development to name just a few.  These changes are also never seen as positive and more so enforced

Generation Y love a fast paced changing environment which is part of the appeal of start ups/small agile companies as change is embrace as opposed to seen as a hindrance which is common in large organisations.

Older Generation do not always accept Generation Y:

Again this is not another one size fits all approach but it’s quite common that those who have been with an organisation for a significant period of time are quite wary of Generation Y and their new approaches.

Generation Y have somewhat of an adventurous approach to business; suggesting new strategies which are too fast paced for the dynamics of some corporate organisations. The older generation of the work force are used to more strict processes and approaches and view Gen Y as having a short attention span and wanting to jump from one idea to another.

The slow paced nature of large corporations and its employee’s mean Generation Y struggle with this type of red tape surrounding and seek a more open minded, fair and adaptable employer.

Work/Life balance is frowned upon not embraced:

The term work/life balance is overused however traditional corporations are more work less balance orientated. Now this isn’t to say Gen Y’s aren’t hardworking, quite the opposite; however we like the ability to have more free time to pursue our passions.

Traditional corporations have a measurement of productivity through the amount of time you spend in the office. If you’re a 12 hour a day guy then you are OBVIOUSLY very busy however if you come in and leave on time then you don’t care about the company. It’s a complete fallacy and one which has been ingrained in people’s minds in corporations worldwide.

Large organisations are typically more traditional and still play by this type of rule and Generation Y are therefore seen as ‘lazy and unmotivated’. Because of this larger corporations are less of an attraction to Generation Y as they are less understanding of the ‘work hard, player harder’ mentality.

Job satisfaction:

All of the above feeds job satisfaction.  If one is valued, encouraged, appreciated, developed and so forth then one will be satisfied with their job. With satisfaction comes loyalty and the retention of Generation Y. It also goes a long way to attracting further Generation Y talent as they see the current dynamic and want to be part of it. I ALWAYS talk about perception in my blog but it’s huge in all aspects of business. If you see a cool office, full of the younger generation, old school Nintendo computers, dart board and the works then you’d automatically assume it’s an awesome place to work (it  mostly likely is).

Large corporations on the whole don’t understand that to attract stellar member s of staff you need to make it a place where people want to come and ultimately a place they are satisfied with. This goes above and beyond financial benefits.

Tough task ahead:

Large corporations have a tough task ahead in order to retain and recruit stellar Generation Y.  It’s no coincidence that the generation lean towards start up’s, smaller companies, their own businesses or freelancing as a means to lead the lifestyle they are ultimately want to lead. Stuffy corporate organisations are not an attraction to Generation Y. They are therefore presented with a battle to turn their faceless corporations into meaningful places to come where lifestyle and work is a cohesive unit.

Work has changed from more of a place you go to ‘pay the bills’ it’s become part of one’s life and they need to be integrated together. I don’t envy the job ahead for those tasked with turning the corporate recruitment path around. 

About the author

Ryan Gibson

Hey! I'm a 28 year old digital marketing guy residing in Leeds, England. My skill is in search marketing and I have gathered over 6 years experience of working on large multilingual campaigns for a number of FTSE 250 Organisations. After accepting a role with a business based in Singapore I began questioning traditional business practice and employee retention. This blog was therefore born with focus on Y in the workplace. A millennial child at heart I aim to provide a voice for the 'misunderstood' generation and my goal is simply to change perception and corporate mind set on work/life attitudes; inspiring companies and individuals to seek change.


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