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Guest post: Mervyn Dinnen - Decoding Gen Y

14th Feb 2011
Editor, HRzone.co.uk Sift Media
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Today I present a guest post from Mervyn Dinnen. When we went to the HR Director’s Summit in Birmingham I took Mervyn along with me to help cover day two. One of the sessions he went to was the ‘Decoding Gen Y’ session. Mervyn and I love to discuss Gen Y, me because I am one, and he because he wants to be one. Only kidding, he’s a ‘digital convert’ who argues against the ‘born before 19xx’ idea, as does Bill ‘Gen Y is a state of mind’ Boorman. In any case, if you’re interested in anything to do with Gen Y the seminar Mervyn attended was very enlightening and I for one think it’s close to the mark. 

The idea is that what defines your life priorities is your life stage rather than your age. This is something I’ve considered a lot: aged 25 you could be raising children in a well-established family unit, or still studying, or just beginning your career, or even well up the career ladder. It depends on when these things happen for you and your priorities obviously change accordingly.

I thought it was good timing to consider these issues as we prepare for Bill’s TRULondon 3 this week, and one person who understands this has great news: Gen Y advocate and international jet-setter Lucian Tarnowski has secured new funding from venture capital funding from Northzone Ventures and two experienced angels – Pierce Casey and Mike Bourne for his company, BraveNewTalent. Not only are they planning on taking on more talent themselves but will be further developing the BraveNewTalent platform, allowing employers to build, engage, recruit and train talent communities as well as rolling out global social recruiting services for its clients. Good work, and we’ll no doubt hear more from Lucian later this week.

Without further ado, here’s Mervyn:

"At the recent HR Directors Business Summit I was lucky enough to attend an enlightening session presented by Decode, a strategic consultancy claiming to be able to de-mystify younger generation employees and consumers for a range of businesses.

Their presentation was called ‘Decoding Generation Y: An Action Plan for Engaging Young Employees’ and was rich in data, mainly taken from an extensive survey that the business carried out last year in the UK, US and Canada. The first half looked at trends whilst the second half looked at some of the difficulties of engagement.

Perhaps surprisingly, considering the perceptions that Gen X and Baby Boomers tend to have, it transpires that Generation Y in the UK are more cautious and less supportive of social media usage in the workplace. Only about a third think companies should allow employees to use social media at work, whilst similar percentages are both comfortable with employers looking at their online activity, and using social media to find them.

There was a noticeable gender split, with women more cautious than men about using social media at work and allowing employers to look at what they are doing. Women also look more to offline networks for support and to discuss career and employment issues rather than their online community.

Looking deeper within the Generation Y sample, they found an intra-generational split. Broadly speaking the Digital Converts (older Gen Y) were more passionate about use of social media than the Digital Natives (younger Gen Y). For the converts it may be that the pressure of getting to grips with it, and the novelty of using it, has led to them embracing social media more whole-heartedly.

For the pruposes of engagement and attraction strategies, they found it impossible to use a uniform approach across the whole age group. For this they looked at the three ‘life stages’ that make up people in Generation Y – students, young independents and young families – and found that the priorities and demands were different across each stage.

Taking work/life balance as an example (something that older generations think is of great importance to Gen Y) they found that it was a number one priority for students just entering the workplace. For the young independents it was of very low priority, whilst for young families its importance had increased, but not to the level of students.

The conclusion was that it was life stages, not purely age defined generational classifications that should drive engagement and attraction. The conclusion being to:

‘Refocus efforts on life stages to create a more compelling unique value proposition to attract the best talent and build loyalty.'"

Check out Mervyn's blog here and don't forget to congratulate him on his awesome new job as community and content manager for Jobsite.co.uk.

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