Aside from providing competitive compensation and mapping out a clear track for advancement, the key to retaining Gen Y professionals is good management. Gen Yers directly connect having a strong relationship with their manager to job satisfaction levels. In the Robert Half and Yahoo! HotJobs survey, respondents described their "dream boss" as being understanding, caring, flexible and open-minded, as well as someone who is authoritative but respects, and values and appreciates his or her employees.
Millennials' upbringing has much to do with their expectations of having managers who are engaged, accessible and communicative. They are accustomed to direct, ongoing supervision and guidance from parents, teachers and other authority figures, and probably were encouraged to ask questions (to which they likely received fairly open responses). As adults in the professional world, they expect to have the same type of interaction with their supervisors; in fact, 35% of those surveyed want to communicate with their boss several times a day. However, do not mistake being a more involved and attentive manager with micromanaging; Millennials want to be nurtured, not stifled.
Gen Y workers are eager to make contributions to their employers. As a result, they want and need to be challenged. So, make sure to give them assignments that will stretch their abilities and enable them to develop competencies they can carry with them through their careers, such as communication skills and other interpersonal abilities. And to bring out their best performance, be sure to provide constant feedback. If you don't, you run the risk of alienating Gen Y workers who may misinterpret a delayed response—or none at all—as a signal that they did not perform to your expectations, or worse, that their contributions are not valued by the company.
Investing In Tomorrow's Workforce
One last word of advice for retaining Gen Y workers and helping them advance professionally: Promote mentoring in your IT department. In the Robert Half and Yahoo! HotJobs survey, Millennials said they find mentor relationships to be valuable. Employers should facilitate the transfer of knowledge by pairing less-seasoned employees with veteran professionals. Mentoring not only can help to create a highly skilled and knowledgeable IT team, but it also can help employees from any age group build rapport with their colleagues.
Millennials make up a quickly growing pool of new tech talent. IT organizations making an effort to understand the values, work styles, ideals and professional expectations of Generation Y likely will be those that are successful in recruiting the best and brightest of these workers and retaining them for the long term.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at http://www.rht.com. To request a complimentary copy of What Millennial Workers Want: How to Attract and Retain Gen Y Employees, call 1.800.793.5533.
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