Understanding Gen-Y

A 2010 Harvard Business Review report, Mentoring Millennials indicates that Millennials—those born between 1977 and 1997—seek work which they find personally fulfilling. Their wish list includes a desire to develop their skills, to be mentored, to receive career coaching, and to have flexible work hours.

A 2013 report from the Millenial Impact Corporate Research Project indicates that 75% of millennials like, retweet, or share content on social media, while A Pew Research Centre study reports that 75% of Millennials have a profile on a social networking site and 20% also have a video of themselves online. Additionally, a 2013 Gallup study reports that Millennials are the more likely than Gen-X and Baby Boomers to say that they would leave their company in the next 12 months if the job market improves.This concurs with a 2012 workplace poll that reports 91% of Millennials expecting to stay in a job for less than 3 years. On the bright side, the Gallup report finds US Millennials to be more actively engaged at their job than other generations of employees.

In the local context, a Singapore Human Resources Institute study characterizes local Gen-Y employees as a restless and tech-savvy lot. Job insecurity seems a major concern for them, according to a 2013 study on young people in Asia by Viacom International Media Networks Asia. But the same report also notes that as many as 69% of Millennials in Singapore describe themselves as “very happy””. And like employees from the other generations, local Millennials also view financial rewards and work-life balance as job incentives—a finding from a 2012 Civil Service College study on 450 local public officers.

The good news is that Gen-Ys are productively engaged workers, given the right incentives. And those things are things that everyone wants (“Winning the generation game“, The Economist, 28 Sept 2013). Employers just need to know what those incentives are.