Should You Cater to the Unique Expectations of Younger Workers?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are you paying enough attention to the unique expectations of younger workers? You may be managing employees with age ranges that span five generations. And you may be accustomed to the strong work ethic that drives most baby boomers and satisfying their demands. But to focus on the future, you need to expand your horizons and learn what younger workers want in the workplace.

A recent New York Times article pointed out that some organizations are hiring generational consultants to help them with the challenges of recruiting younger workers and developing their loyalty. You don’t have to go that far, but you should keep up to date on what’s trending.

Unique Expectations Require a New Strategy for Hiring

When it’s time to recruit, organizations need to show young prospects that they are keeping up with important current topics. If you can tout your social responsibility angle during job fairs, younger applicants will want to hear more about the company and your open positions.

The whole concept of applying for a job may need a redo. At some companies, the application is now a ‘fit’ quiz. Applicants answer several questions in a quiz format that’s designed to reveal whether they and the organization will be a good fit. And some of these quizzes can also take the form of a sales assessment test, if you're hiring sales professionals.

Gen Zers are often put off by the formality that appealed to generations that came before them. They might not embrace the idea of dressing in a suit for an interview and sitting through a long question and answer session. Some organizations have turned preliminary screening sessions into ‘speed-​interviews.’ Applicants at a job fair might spend three minutes with three different interviewers. These experiences give applicants a sense of organizational diversity and help them develop perspective about whether they want to continue exploring employment with that company.

The Side Hustle

Remember that many millennials came of age during the Great Recession. They watched their parents lose jobs and sometimes, their homes. Millennials also had to struggle mightily to get good jobs after they left high school or college. This harsh reality led many of them to pick up side hustles. In additional to earning extra money, the millennial side hustle represents an activity they feel passionate about. Sometimes this is a social cause, other times it's an artistic effort. Over 60% of millennials either have a side hustle now, or they’ve had one in the recent past.

If there’s not a conflict with confidentiality and competitive intelligence, employers should signal flexibility about workers’ side hustles. In some companies, managers encourage team members to teach interested peers what they’ve learned in their other positions.

Job Flexibility

Nothing sounds more disheartening to young workers than a fixed set of responsibilities that never change. Your team members don’t want to spend their time working endlessly at tasks that grow stagnant. During the interview process, you don’t have to promise candidates a shot at the CEO’s position, but you do have to give them a glimpse of a future that includes more responsibility, flexibility to explore other positions in the organization, and training which the company will provide.

It's a whole new world in terms of recruiting and hiring the best talent and organizations must understand the unique expectations of younger workers. If you haven't changed your approach recently, it's time to update your process so you can attract the candidates you want to add to your organization.