Is Gen-Y recruitment a clear and present challenge for human resources (HR) practitioners? HR gurus Edmond So have the answers

29 Aug 2011

【Career Times HR Corner】Change on the corporate landscape is not only constant but also rapid. Companies nowadays are by and large characterised by a flatter hierarchy with a shorter chain of command, wider span of control and perhaps most noticeably a younger workforce, says Edmond So, general manager, Besteam Personnel Consultancy Ltd.

Getting the right staff mix can be costly though. For instance, it used to take a company not more than a month or two to bring a new employee up to speed with the job requirements and the company’s business, but a lengthier on-boarding process is expected now.

“To manage Gen-Y workers, employers must not be too rigid,” he says. “It takes time to build up the competence of a young employee but it eventually pays dividends.”

Mr So observes that Gen-Y people tend to make careless mistakes and so require up-close and personal guidance. “People from the new generations are full of brilliant ideas and they look for challenge and excitement in a job,” he says. “However, they are reluctant to follow established protocols, vulnerable, prone to stress, easily discouraged and can get disoriented.”

It seems the best way for employers to communicate with their Gen-Y workers is through direct dialogue. “Someone can come into the office one day and is gone the next,” he says. “So, an employer must take into account their feelings.”

To boost morale and mutual understanding, he encourages employers to work on staff relations through regular staff activities and facilitate transparent, two-way communication.

Mr So points out that the working environment too is now very different from what it used to be. “Gen-Y people need to stay in touch with their friends and peers on social networks,” he explains. “They would expect in the job a certain level of freedom in terms of communications.”

Characteristics of Gen-Y workers

Full of bright ideas

Easily discouraged

Mobile, elusive and unstable

Prone to stress and disorientation

Reluctant to comply with established “protocols”

Mr So has seen an increasing reliance on online channels in recruitment. But, to recruit the right people, an HR must first of all seek to understand the Y generation and formulate performance management plans in accordance with specific personality attributes and behavioural traits.

For this reason, candidate assessment now takes longer to complete. “This is also to ensure that prospective employees will fit in to the company’s culture,” he notes.

Line managers can help in this regard, by giving the HR team a clear description of their HR requirements and training needs. Trial and errors must be tolerated in the workplace, he adds. “Employers must also offer young staff a chance to unleash and fulfil their potential.”

Gen-Y management tips

Exercise flexibility

Facilitate transparent, two-way communication

Care for their feelings

Offer no-nonsense, step-by-step guidance