Y Stands for "Yikes!" According to Recruiters

October 6, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new Jobfox poll indicates Gen Y workers are perceived by recruiters as being the weakest performers among the four generations that now make up the U.S. workforce.

Only 20% of the recruiters surveyed classified Gen Y (28 and younger), also known as Millennials, as “generally great performers,” according to a press release. This compares to 63% who said Baby Boomers (43 to 62 years old) were great performers, 58% who gave high marks to Gen X (29 to 42), and 25% who said the same for Traditionalists (63 and older).

Gen Y was also classified as “generally poor performers” by the largest number of recruiters polled (30%), followed by 22% of recruiters who classified Traditionalists as poor performers, 5% for Gen X, and 4% for Baby Boomers.

However, Jobfox CEO Rob McGovern believes it is corporate leaders not Gen Y professionals who need attitude adjustments. “Once you begin to understand them, Gen Y is a very impressive group of workers,” he said in the press release.

McGovern warns that companies must do a better job of hiring, appreciating, and motivating younger workers or risk competitive disadvantage, and he cites four major motivators for Millennials at work:

  • The new reward is balance. Gen Y doesn’t understand the rigidity of the 9-to-5 work week created by Baby Boomers. Millennials work best when they can set their own hours to get work accomplished. Flexible schedules are highly coveted by younger workers.
  • Keep them cutting-edge. Millennials understand, better than any other generation before them, that everything becomes quickly obsolete, including skills. Companies must do a better job at providing new learning experiences for Gen Y or they will seek new opportunities elsewhere.
  • Don’t treat them as junior anything. “This is a generation that was taught that everyone is special, that everyone gets a trophy – win or lose,” McGovern said. “They won’t be satisfied working inside the corporate machine. They want to contribute immediately and companies must do a better job of helping younger workers see how their work is important and how what they do relates to the overall goals of the company.”
  • Provide stability. Counter to what many think, Gen Y workers are loyal team players as long as they can balance work and life goals, gain new learning opportunities and feel a part of company goals.

“[Gen Y has] a different view of the American dream. I think we’ll see major workplace changes in the decades ahead, led by a new generation of leaders and by companies that want to win by attracting and keeping the best people,” McGovern said.

Jobfox surveyed more than 200 recruiters about their perceptions of job performance across generations.