Gen Y in the Workforce: A New Approach

How recruiters and HR professionals view Gen Y in the workplace

Ah, the Generational Debate.  Personally, the topic makes my head spin.  I’m through with articles, blog posts, and webinars with the workplace generational fodder.  Baby Boomers complain about Gen Xers who complain about Gen Y.  All the while Gen Y is complaining about Boomers and vice versa with the Xers somewhere in between.  The cycle seems to never end, but really it should.  It really should and here’s why.

Baby Boomers & an Improving Economy

The world economy is improving.  Spirits are lifting and the tides are changing in the marketplace for businesses and job seekers.  Boomers, the largest generational group 79 million strong are once again beginning to plan their exit strategy and as the economy improves are considering the option of retirement.  Researchers at Northeastern University are forecasting a global job seeker shortage in 2018. The job market will be totally flip flopped as job seekers are a hard to find commodity like never before.  The experts have been forecasting a job seeker shortage for years as the Baby Boomers begin to retire.  This news is not new.  The recession put a momentary brake on the shortage but it’s a mathematical certainty.

The law of supply and demand tell us that when supply lessens, demand increases.  The key in understanding how to use this law idea in the context of talent and management is to plan for the increase.  In this case an increase in the demand for qualified workers in the future leveraging common retail business concepts of customer service, the personal touch, and flexibility.

Gen Y in the Workplace

But this post isn’t about economic forecasting and our upcoming job seeker shortage.  It’s about Gen Y and a new approach to building relationships and living together in this planet we call Earth.

  • Customer Service. As the group of experienced and business tested professionals (i.e. The Baby Boomers) exit or ease out of the work force, the back fill of as experienced candidates is not waiting in the wings.  Like any competitive market or business environment, the key is to develop relationships as a recruiter, company, and agency with future talent through relationships both on and offline.  Customers have choices and rarely fall into your lap without years of careful planning and behind the scenes effort.  I know this first hand as I have been building and growing my consulting business full time for the last six months.  Those first 1o years of relationship building have come in handy.  Be nice to Gen Y.  Get to know them.  Take them to dinner.  Learn to speak their language.  Establish long term relationships through good old fashioned customer service.
  • Personal Touch. People remember brands but people more importantly remember people.  The human element is one thing that a logo or large corporation can never duplicate.  A personal touch is essentially a consultant, company’s or recruiter’s product differentiation strategy.  Start building those relationships now and begin establishing a loyal following for the future.  Gen Y wants to see past a company’s logo.  Promote your company’s employee events, philanthropy, and be transparent using social media, video, blogs, and other tools.  Engage your audience and quickly respond to questions and provide assistance with expecting something in return.  It’s called the Golden Rule.
  • Flexibility. Simply put, “if you can’t be them–join them.”  Companies need to quit focusing on how to change Gen Y and spend their time and money on establishing a dialogue, communication, and a network for the future of work.  Otherwise these young savvy candidates have options and have no qualms about moving to greener pastures.  Start establishing relationships now to build and establish personal relationships, credibility, and a pipeline of candidates by being quick on your feet, flexible, and willing to mold your methods to fit your audience, Gen Y who is also 79 million strong.

Even More on Gen Y in the Workforce

Interested in learning more about how recruiters and HR professionals view Gen Y in the workplace (of course you do)?  Visit the Recruiting Inferno and check out the comment conversation on Steve Levy’s post, Who’s Afraid of Being Social? My good friend, Sherri Elliott-Yeary who is an HR whiz and generational expert breaks down the science and importance of recruiting and building cross-generational teams in her book, Ties to Tattoos.  I highly recommend it!

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Shennee says

    Great Post Jessica! Instead of reading every other day about which Generation is better than the other, How about we all try to find some common ground? Great minds think alike. The more diverse ideas brought to the table, the greater the collaboration!
    We should all have an “open mind”.
    Human Resources and Recruiting is contantly evolving, and will continue to do so.

    • blogging4jobs says


      Thanks for your post! I really think that we should start to engage people on their level. We all need to work together.



  2. Maureen Sharib says

    It all boils down to knowing how to be an engaging communicator. If you don’t know how to do that you’d better learn. There are more “tools” than ever these days to learn and understanding how to connect with the masses on a one-to-one basis is more important than ever!

    • blogging4jobs says


      Absolutely agree. We need to know our audience as recruiters. If we don’t, we lose an opportunity to fill a position or engage a potential candidate in the short and long term.



  3. Rayna Leshem says

    Your post is neat. There are some issues here but don’t have the time right now. I’m bookmarking this and leave this comment to check again later and update my first comment (this one). By the way i found your blog as i was quering for similar subjects in Bing

  4. Bernarda Stauffacher says

    Video blogs are very nice because you can sort of express what you want in an artistic way, you can also have a viral video posted on your blog ,* blog site


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