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HOW TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN YAYA EMPLOYEES Finding the right fit in the workplace

YAYACONNECTION your link to our world

Table of Contents Table of Contents Introduction • The YAYA Generation in the Workplace • Methodology Job Search • LinkedIn • What’s Effective • Recommendations Company Attributes • Company Factors • Benefits • Recommendations Retention • Work Environment • Management • Feedback • Recommendations Conclusion

Introduction The YAYA Generation in the Workplace Over the last several decades, a combination of social, technological and economic developments has resulted in unprecedented generational diversity in the workforce. For prospect-seeking employers, this means that to understand and analyze the distinctive interests and expectations of generationally divided employee groups is vital throughout the hiring process. One of these groups is the YAYA generation, a demographic consisting of 18-24 year-olds, or those born between 1987 and 1994. As a group, we (the YAYA generation) have been subject to significantly different experiences, especially growing up in the information age, than those of older generations, exacerbating the already sizeable generational divide that exists. Different experiences cultivate different workplace expectations. Consequently, members of the YAYA generation must be considered distinct from even the millennial generation, a broader designation usually assigned to persons between the ages of 18 and 29. According to 2010 census data, there are 29.3 million people in the YAYA demographic, compared to 79 million in the millennial generation. These groups represent a significant percentage of both new employees and those searching for employment. They share the workplace with Generation X and the Baby Boomers, groups whose members often hold managerial and administrative positions. The result is a cultural disconnect, particularly prominent between the generations with the largest age divides: the YAYA generation and the Baby Boomers. To help bridge this gap, we have strived to identify the unique expectations and inclinations of the YAYA generation by producing and analyzing research. In addition to research analysis, we have provided specific recommendations for attracting and retaining YAYA employees by drawing on our unique insider perspectives. We understand the motivation and desires that fuel the YAYA generation because we are members. After utilizing the insights and recommendations outlined in this paper, our hope that is you will understand, too.


Introduction Methodology We started this study with the objective of answering key questions about how members of the YAYA demographic view the different aspects of finding and keeping a job. We conducted: • A survey (fielding took place March 15th to April 10th, 2012) • 2 focus groups (conducted in late March) featuring college students from a wide variety of majors, stratified by gender. • 4 depth interviews (conducted Feb. 15th-20th) with 2 HR professionals and 2 recent graduates currently employed in their first full time position. The convenience sample for the survey was obtained by strategically pushing the survey out all over the country to student and professional acquaintances that fit our demographic criteria. Because partial responses were included in the survey data, the base size varies from 303 to 406 depending on the question. For questions regarding more detailed tabulations, our research instruments or our sample profile, please contact us through our website.


Job Search The days of sticking a want ad in the newspaper when you have a job opening are quickly fading. There are countless different forums to navigate when trying to inform the right candidates about the availability of your position. In order to successfully hire YAYA employees, the most important first step is to find out where they are looking for jobs.

LinkedIn In recent years, much attention has been paid to our use of different social media, and in particular the explosion of LinkedIn. In February of 2012 LinkedIn reached 150 million users, 60 percent of whom are located in 200 countries outside the U.S. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies use LinkedIn, and the network averages two new members every second. HR professionals interviewed for this study all said they use the site frequently and successfully to push out job openings to qualified candidates. Despite all this information supporting the use of LinkedIn, only 31 percent of respondents said they look for jobs on LinkedIn. While that number was the same as Facebook, Twitter and newspapers combined, it was significantly lower than job boards, career fairs, company websites and especially leveraging friends and family. When asked which method they found most effective, the number that said LinkedIn dropped to a paltry 2%.


Job Search This view of LinkedIn was reinforced in our focus groups. One respondent referenced LinkedIn as more of a “professional Facebook, to keep contact with people I’ve met on the job”. It is a great resource to maintain connections that we’ve already made. But without the experience and recommendations necessary to appear in searches by HR professionals, its use as a job-hunting tool is limited.

I don’t really use LinkedIn. It’s one of those things like golf- I’m gonnna learn it eventually, I swear I am. But I just haven’t gotten around to it.

Whats the Most Effective?

As mentioned above, most people included friends and family, company websites, career fairs and job boards as the primary places to start the job search. These numbers stayed consistent when asked which one they found most effective:


Job Search Personal connections remain king in this area. Members of the YAYA demographic are well versed in modern technology. We realize that when we send a resume to a company, a computer program screens our submission to decide whether or not the HR person will even see it. As one of our respondents said, this “makes it extremely easy to slip through the cracks”. Having a company connection through friends, family or a networking event like a career fair can allow us to skip that initial step and get an interview.

Being able to actually put a face to a job is a lot easier than just applying blindly online. Being able to meet someone in person is a real advantage.

Companies that post job openings on their websites or an online job board are also working in the right direction. This at least informs us that the job opening exists, as well as what the requirements we need to be considered for the position.

Recommendations 1. Make sure your website is clear and easy to use. It’s frustrating to go to a company’s website and spend five minutes looking for a careers section. If you have job openings, make sure they are displayed in a place that is easy for applicants to find. 2. If you have the resources, send people to college career fairs. This will be beneficial for both you and your potential employees. You’ll have a chance to gauge prospects in person, and they’ll have a chance to network and put a face to their resume. Sending someone in our age bracket won’t hurt either, especially if they are enthusiastic about their work and available to connect through social media after the fair is over. 3. If you can’t send anyone to a career fair, contact career services at schools from which you’d like to recruit. Chances are they have a forum or email service that can push your job opening to their students. This will show that your company is interested in the students and advertise that you have availabilities. 4. Use LinkedIn. But make sure that you’re using other methods as well. While most of us have a LinkedIn profile, we’re more comfortable and have more trust using some of these more personal methods in searching for jobs.


Company Attributes The YAYA generation looks at many different aspects of a company when deciding if they want to work there. If you are a large, prestigious company with great management that offers a highly competitive salary, chances are you aren’t going to have any problems landing young employees. In our focus groups this was especially true for men, as most of them wanted a large, recognizable brand to put on their resume for their first job out of school. In our study, however, significantly more respondents ranked opportunities for career growth as extremely important compared to company’s management style, reputation and salary offered.

Importance of Company Factors Job Factors

Opportunities for career growth Company's management style Company's reputation Salary Company's location Quality benefits Challenging work Length of commute Use of technology In-house training programs Job title Company's charitable efforts

Extremely Important (%)

Somewhat Important (%)

49.0% 48.6% 48.3% 43.1% 39.0% 27.9% 24.8% 21.0% 18.3% 14.1% 10.0%

39.3% 45.5% 47.6% 44.1% 48.6% 50.7% 50.3% 41.7% 47.2% 42.4% 35.2%



Though this changed when asked to rank the top five factors (salary ranked slightly higher), it is still clear that the YAYA generation places a high value on the ability to rise up through the ranks of a company.


Company Attributes

Members of our demographic want to be rewarded for the work they put in, not for the amount of time they have been with the company. As a generation, we have a high feeling of self worth and are willing to put in the work necessary to advance both the company and ourselves. If we are not rewarded accordingly, we will be much more likely to look elsewhere for employment.

[I want to] be rewarded for hard work through job progression. If I put in a valuable effort, I don’t want to be limited by the structure of the corporation. I want to be rewarded for my impact regardless of how long I’ve been there.

Quality benefits, use of technology and challenging work all ranked close behind salary and can be considered to be almost equally important. Other things like job title, in-house training programs and the company’s charitable efforts are great things to offer, but not necessarily as important as the other factors.

Some factors may very well be outside of your control. Company location (87 percent) and length of commute (75 percent) were both rated at least somewhat important by a majority of respondents. Don’t fret if you’re located in a less than desirable location, though; location ranked last when stacked up against salary, opportunities for career growth, quality benefits and company reputation.

Especially relative to later periods in life I don’t have a whole lot of things holding me back from one area or another right now.

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Company Attributes Benefits The package of benefits a company offers to prospective employees can be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle in attracting someone from the YAYA generation. Older generations tend to think we don’t understand healthcare and retirement benefits, and therefore don’t place a high importance on them. One HR professional working for a company with an extremely competitive benefit package even confirmed this, saying members of our generation “don’t seem as concerned about those types of benefits when being interviewed”. Our survey findings indicate that this is not true, as healthcare and 401K had the highest average rating of all the benefits. Benefit Rating

Healthcare coverage 401(k) Flexible work hours Paid vacation Bonuses Dental care coverage Tuition reimbursement program for further education Subsidized training (e.g. attending workshops or conferences) Mentoring programs Housing or relocation assistance Profit-sharing plan On-site extras (e.g. dry cleaning, gym, etc.) Childcare assistance

Response Average 8.03 7.09 6.95 6.88 6.86 6.74 6.69 6.16 6.00 5.92 5.49 4.70 3.81

Q7: Rate the importance of the following benefits on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely important and 1 being not important at all. We’ve come of age in a period of economic turmoil. Even if we don’t understand the specifics of the new healthcare plan and the possible failure of Social Security, we’ve heard enough about both to know that having healthcare coverage and a solid retirement plan are important, even while we’re still young. Outside of healthcare and retirement benefits, the most important benefit was having flexible hours. This stayed consistent when respondents were asked to rank the benefits:


Company Attributes

Our generation takes pride in getting things done, but we just don’t necessarily want to do it on 8:30 to 5 schedules. We’ll put in the hours needed to get the job done, but clocking in and clocking out at specified times seems somewhat antiquated in an era when the lines between home and work have become blurred by constant connectivity. Other benefits that scored nearly as high were traditional things like dental care, paid vacation, bonuses and tuition reimbursement programs. Benefits such as subsidized training, housing/ relocation assistance and profit sharing all received average scores. Respondents expressed lukewarm responses to these types of benefits, putting them in more a “nice to have but clearly behind” category. On site extras (such as dry cleaning, gym, etc.) and childcare assistance scored the lowest by far. These are great programs to have, but they take a backseat to more pressing needs, especially when dealing with a group that doesn’t have kids and is used to having free run of a university recreation center.


Company Attributes Recommendations 1. If your location makes it difficult to lure YAYA job seekers, make sure you emphasize all of the other things your company has to offer. Work through these lists and make sure your company is competitive in the most important categories. 2. Showcase employees who have risen internally through your company. In all likelihood, they are some of your most enthusiastic and loyal employees, and they will offer proof that new hires will have hope of advancing without looking elsewhere. 3. Let prospective employees meet members of management. These may or may not be the same people who have been successful from within the company, but either way it will give us a better idea of what we should expect from our bosses. 4. Highlight your financial benefits package early. If you don’t have the financial wherewithal to offer a competitive healthcare/retirement package, consider loosening your office hour policy and allowing people some flexibility. Though this may not be something you’re normally comfortable with, it is the most cost efficient benefit on this list. If you find that flexible hours are causing you to lose money (though there are studies that suggest the opposite), you can always change back. 5. Stress the experience benefits you have to offer. If you have a great mentoring program or offer subsidized training, make sure they realize how much value that experience can add when looking for a new job or promotion. 6. Talk about all of your “extras”. This runs the gamut from charitable activity, housing assistance, on-site extras, etc. Just make sure you do it after you’ve highlighted everything else. These items scored low not because we don’t want them, but because in the grand scheme of things they are not as vital as something like salary or healthcare. If you have them, we want them.


Retention Turnover is one of the more expensive potential costs a company can incur. Though figures vary, some studies estimate the cost of turnover at almost $2 trillion annually. Our generation in particular has been found to have a lower level of organizational commitment to companies, making us more likely to continue to seek out other jobs if the one we have doesn’t seem like a perfect fit. So the question is, once you’ve hired your YAYA employee, how do you keep them? Many of the same factors and benefits that sell members of the YAYA generation on a company will also keep us there. Conversely, other considerations such as work environment and management that make a company a more comfortable fit for a new employee can also be used to sell.

Work Environment A good work environment is vital for keeping employees of all ages happy and productive. While previous studies have found that Millenials want open office environments or casual dress codes, not very many people view them as extremely important relative to other factors. This is at least partially because these types of work environments are not necessarily expected for a first job out of school. We may not expect to wear a three-piece suit to work everyday, but depending on the field there is an understanding that business casual could be the minimum acceptable dress code.


Retention Instead, members of the YAYA generation are focused on the feel of their workplace. The highest scoring environment factors were a good work/life balance, a friendly/effective manager and friendly coworkers.

YAYA employees want a workplace with a social environment. We want to be in a company where we can make friends with the people surrounding us, not a company where we’re separated in cubicles.

I was looking for a big company. A huge thing was the people I work with. You don’t always have the luxury of meeting them beforehand, but it made a huge difference for me.

While these concepts may seem like common sense, it is vital that you pay them the right amount of attention. If everyone in the office enjoys each other’s company and the work they are doing, there is no reason to look elsewhere. And it is not a stretch to say that the people who have the most influence on this environment are your managers.

Management The YAYA generation has more specific qualities that they look for in a manager beyond friendliness and effectiveness.


Retention In addition to having good people whom we can respect in management positions, our biggest requirement is good communication. We’ve gone though our whole lives with teachers who tell us explicitly what their expectations are on tests and assignments. In an entry-level position we don’t expect that to change. We can do great work, but we’re not interested in dong the same work five different ways because we’re guessing what managers want.

Feedback is probably the most important element of this communication.

The more feedback the better. Let me know how I’m doing along the way.

More than anything, we want managers who are PROACTIVE with their feedback. Coming into a job we might not have 100 percent confidence in our skill levels for certain tasks. We don’t want to appear weak by asking too many questions. But if you have management that is well respected in the office, we’ll take as much advice as they’re willing to give.

I want to know if I’m doing something that’s not up to their standards. I’d want someone to tell me, and then explain to me how I can fix it.


Retention It is important to note the difference between a proactive manager and someone who is constantly hovering over your shoulder. The phrase that came up independently in our focus groups was an “open door” manager – someone who we’re not afraid to talk to about our questions, and someone who isn’t afraid to approach us if he or she sees something that needs to be changed or done differently. Though the amount of desired feedback varies from person to person, it is clear that members of our demographic want it more frequently than previous generations. While this may put more of an onus on management, we would argue in the long run that it will increase productivity if we can get our work done right the first time.

Recommendations 1. Do things that foster a team environment within your office. This can range from allowing new employees to select a mentor from management, to team building exercises outside the office, to a catered office lunch one day a week. Anything that will allow your employees to interact with one another in a manner that will help them bond will be effective in this area. 2. Follow that up by making sure your employees feel like people, not cogs in a machine. Let us give YOU feedback on our work or that of fellow team members. You don’t have to let us run the company, but making us feel like we’re contributing will improve our enthusiasm for the work. 3. Promote good people from within your company. They will be more loyal to you for it, and it is proof of the opportunities for career growth that are so important for luring new YAYA hires. When we know we are being rewarded based on the quality of our work, we’ll give you nothing but our best. 4. Evaluate your managers constantly. Make sure they are communicating tasks clearly, are easy to get in touch with and are giving appropriate amounts of feedback. If they’re not, rest assured you’re leaving dollars on the table. 5. If you’re doing any (or all) of these things well, make sure you’re highlighting them when you’re interviewing candidates. As mentioned earlier they make great selling points, especially if you can’t afford to offer a superior salary or benefit package for your field. Something to keep in mind when making changes in these areas is they are mostly intangible and have more to do with personal attitudes within your office. They are among the most cost efficient changes you can make as a business owner, but that does not mean that they are the easiest changes to make. Make sure if you decide to make changes to work environment or management attitudes that you recognize it as a process that involves give and take from all parties. It will not happen overnight.

Conclusion All of this information can be beneficial to your company and prospective employees, but keep in mind every suggestion made may not be applicable to your organization. To find the right pieces to the puzzle, it is essential to understand what the big picture looks like, because it is unique to your business. Look internally and find where adjustments make sense and can be made. Then, take the next step and use those adjustments to attract YAYA employees and keep them working for you for years to come.


About YAYA Connection YAYA Connection is a student-managed consulting firm guided by professional staff from the Missouri School of Journalism. As representatives of the YAYA voice, we help bridge the gap between generations by providing straightforward insights, compiling clear research and utilizing an insider’s perspective in order to help others understand the Youth and Young Adult Market. In addition to primary research, YAYA Connection produces weekly blog posts, providing a YAYA perspective on a broad range of issues and topics. Drawing from personal experience and research analysis, our blogs aim to further our goal of making the YAYA generation more accessible to members of other generations, especially prospective employers. To learn more about our company and/or request additional information, please visit our website at You can also access us through social media via the links below. Follow us on Twitter: @YAYAConnect Facebook:

YAYACONNECTION your link to our world

Works Cited “About Us.” LinkedIn Press Center. LinkedIn Corporation, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <>. Engaging Gen X and Gen Y Employees. Three Significant Trends in Recognition. Achievers, Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. Engelman, Elizabeth. Generation Y vs. Baby Boomers: How Workplace Commitment Levels Affect Recruitment and Retention of Generation Y Within Corporate America. Diss. Capella University, 2009. ProQuest LLC. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. Generation Y. What Millennial Workers Want: How to Attract and Retain Gen Y Employees. Aug. 2007. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. “How to Reduce Employee Turnover and Get 3,650% ROI.” : HR Human Resources. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. < turnover-and-get-3650-roi_gwgtr1zx.html>. “Reader Reaction: Would Flexible Working Hours Improve Productivity and Costs?” Printweek (2006). ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. Wallis, Claudia. “The Myth About Homework.” Time. Time, 29 Aug. 2006. Web. 25 Apr. 2012. <,9171,1376208,00.html>.

YAYACONNECTION your link to our world

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