ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46
Financial Times  

Young employees call the shots; not employers

By Tharindri Rupesinghe

Employers are being faced with a new problem for the past few years: A group of individuals who are highly educated, opinionated and want good things fast and easy.

Some call them Gen Y, others The Google generation and some even call them the MyPod generation. While the baby boomers grew up on TV and post – World War 2 prosperity, this new generation has been bred on Nintendo and the Internet, and wants to do things differently.

Talent war
According to Andrew Chan, Managing Director of TMS Asia Pacific, specialists in travel and hospitality recruitment, the working age of Asia is sharply contracting as the whole globe faces an ageing population, throwing it headlong into a “talent crunch”.
Reasons range from the one-child policies taken up by populous countries to women marrying and conceiving late in their lives. Conflictingly, Chan says that 69% of the jobs available by 2020 will be created in Asia. “It would create a very job-heavy atmosphere,” he said, speaking at a PATA session in Colombo held recently, adding that in that context, the new-age employer will have to find a way to give his workers what they are now clamoring for the most: a balanced work life. “Employee retention levels are not driven by salary alone,” Chan said, speaking about an across-Asia survey TMS had conducted on the phenomenon. Many people now look for ways in which they can have a satisfying and demanding career while enjoying flexibility.

‘Gen Y’
This is where Gen Y comes in. Anyone born in the 1978-1994 period is considered to be Gen Y. This emerging group of employees is less likely to respond to the usual “command and control” regime of the past, he said. They are more likely instead, to be asking their employers the question of “why should I be working for you?” Chan warned employers of a turn of the tables, “Get ready for Gen Y interviewing you at an interview,” saying that as the number of job opportunities increase, they would be on the look out for bigger and better things, always.

“Seldom do companies realize what retention means to their bottom line,” said Chan. Finding, recruiting and training new additions would be more costly to the firms than retaining their current workforce, give or take salary increments and career growth. SMB’s are most hard-hit by this.

Retaining Gen Y
For employers to retain their Gen Y workers, Chan suggested some tips which included 100% flexibility. “It has shown higher productivity and lower attrition,” he said, adding that most workers in Europe and the US were now actively looking for jobs which offer them this bonus.

Also, international transfers when possible would be a smart move, in the context of the knowledge economy where most young people migrate for better educational opportunities and growth.

Don’t be afraid to have fun, was one of his chief messages to the employers. Google, one of the most successful companies in the US has some of the best staff retention rates in the industry, Not only do they have recreational facilities that would put any gaming-arcade to shame, they also allow employees to personalize their workspaces in any manner of creative ways. After-work barbecues or drinks and visits to various places as a team might act as a major reason for the employees to stay on.

‘Fast and easy’ are key words in the Gen Y vocabulary, which means that the expectations they have of their seniors are high. According to Chan, employers should set clear expectations for their workers, and curb any that are too high.

“There is a misconception that Gen Y does not respect its seniors. They do, they simply demand respect in turn,” he said.


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