There is no shortage of literature and analysis giving endless advice on our Gen Y challenge. Where do we find them? How do we attract them? How in heavens do we hang on to them once we’ve got them? Things are not helped by the fact that the weight of surveys tells us that throwing money at them isn’t going to help, with salary typically featuring mid table on a top ten of things Gen Y wants from their work life.
Does anyone really know what Gen Y wants? Does Gen Y know?
Generationally, ‘Boomers’ have often been considered the ‘work hard, move up’ generation, while Gen X sought more of a ‘work/life balance’. Gen Y it seems, are often characterised as constantly asking ‘why should I’?
If the answer isn’t good enough, then too often, what you hope is the ‘get up and go’ in your organisation is out the door.
So, what can we do about it? Again, there are a plethora of studies and surveys providing us with a bewildering array of tactics, from key words and ideas expressed in our recruitment advertising, to what colour to best paint the walls and how many cappuccino machines we should have. Where do we start?
The answer is actually a lot more straight forward than it seems. It’s also far more helpful towards a company’s financial health than many might think?
The Service Profit Chain
Put succinctly, the service profit chain is a tested model which demonstrates the link between a truly engaged workforce and an organisation’s increasing growth and profitability.
We have previously covered topics here discussing the relationship between customer service and sales revenue and the need to produce ‘delighted’ customers, not just customers that are merely ‘satisfied’ (see Jones & Sasser et al 1995). The retail world today in particular faces a double threat; a retail landscape that leaves ‘people’ as the only one of the 5 P’s that can effectively drive competitive advantage, and new employees that are too frequently characterised by the Gen Y trait of having low service levels and poor people skills.
If we can find a way to successfully engage Gen Y to the extent that ‘why should I?’ is replaced by ‘how can I?’ and in the process we ‘delight’ our customers, then the two biggest challenges facing retailers today are simultaneously addressed.
OK, so how do we engage our employees? Well, that journey is different for each business and one that must embrace all aspects of the organisation and its management. This blog article cannot do it justice to the process except to say it’s one that is understood and is already being successfully practiced. However, a useful ‘best practice’ summary was given by the Australian Institute of Management as follows:
- Give employees the feeling of working on useful and challenging tasks
- Genuinely trust and commit to employees
- Offer good training and development opportunities
- Reward and recognise
- Implement strategies that promote positive workplace relationships
As a checklist this is a good start. As a blueprint to a solution, it’s no more than a start. There can be no doubt, successfully implementing any initiative to engage and keep engaged Gen Y is a challenge – but the rewards are tangible, sustainable and unique.
As a closing thought on the prize to be had, consider this. Recent studies estimate that as much as 40 percent of a typical employee’s effort is discretionary. That is, nearly half of what they could potentially achieve is typically untapped and not required by an employer for an employee to keep their job and reach an ‘acceptable’ standard.
Engaging that employee effectively and tapping that seam brings rich rewards.
Author: Peter Fullbrook, Managing Director, Prosell Australia