During an economic downturn, many employers respond with a knee-jerk reaction to cut bottom line expenses by laying off some of its most critical talent.
Yet the goal during a down economy is to build a visual bridge between what is going on today and where you want your company to go in the future. The Gen Y careerist is certainly one demographic you donâ€™t want to ignore during a down economy. They are the most skilled, tech savvy generation in the history of business, and they can bring enthusiasm and knowledge into your company at an affordable price but only if you know how to speak to their values, needs and desires.Â And…if you play your cards right by building an open, respectful relationship with them, there is a good chance that your Gen Yers will come back to you in a few years when you need them (and trust me on this…you are going to need them!)
This article will provide you insight into how to make the most of a slow economy by tapping into the assets and spirit of the Generation Y worker.
1. Embrace Gen Yâ€™s need to job hop. Generation Y is a generation that is well known for job hopping, not because they lack respect or loyalty. They see moving from job to job as an essential step for building a great career. During a down economy, you may find you will reap the rewards of hiring Gen Y on a temporary basis (3-6 months) and doing everything you can to build a loyal relationship with them. They will enjoy the freedom of knowing the job is short-term and if you treat them well, they will more than likely come back to you in the future when the economy turns back around. If your company is one that has strong brand equity, sell Gen Y on the opportunity to add your company to their resume. Theyâ€™ll love this idea.
2. Invite Gen Y to offer training to your company. Is your company lacking a few tech skills, online social networking skills or the knowledge about whatâ€™s really going on in the marketplace for ages 18-29? If so, a down economy may be the perfect opportunity to invite a few Gen Y techies to speak to your company. This generation thrives on teaching others, and they love nothing better than to talk about subjects dear to their heart like text messaging, how to use social networking sites effectively or to talk about whatâ€™s going on with i-tunes or their favorite digital download site. Learning what Gen Y knows can give your company a serious upper hand in the marketplace when the economy picks back up.
3. Tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of Gen Y. Many Gen Y careerists are not only working for a company but are running a small business or a non profit outside of work. During a down economy, you may be able to outsource a few tasks to a Gen Y contractor or consultant. At the same time, tapping into Gen Yâ€™s entrepreneurial spirit will add new ideas and bring new networks into to your company which can help you move through sluggish times with a brand new perspective.
4. Market to the emerging careerist through Gen Y. There is one thing to know about Gen Y: They have a very large global network, and they make decisions based on what their friends tell them to do. Savvy business owners will see a slow economy as an opportunity to do some very creative marketing. By getting Gen Y into your company during this time, even on a part-time basis, you can build strong word-of-mouth marketing in the Gen Y community about your companyâ€™s brand. Host a social or business event specifically for your Gen Y workers, and invite them to bring their friends. You will hit the nail on the head by including their network in a few of your company events.
5. Use this time to allow Gen Y to get paid to volunteer. Companies like Ernst and Young are actually paying their Gen Yâ€™s to volunteer in countries abroad (Brilliant with a capital B.) Gen Y loves to volunteer and may actually take a reduced salary in order to do meaningful work for your company in a location or neighborhood that needs your services. You may also find grant money to fund this effort, or you may be find a company who is willing to partner with you to make funding available for this form of outreach. Companies like the Peace Corps and Teach for America are quite popular with Gen Y, because the young careerist can see from day one how their efforts are creating a better world. Take advantage of this time to make your company more visible through the civic mindedness of the twentysomething careerist.
6. Offer Gen Y the opportunity to take on leadership development training and shorter stretch assignments which will strengthen both their career and your company. During a down economy, the first thing that many employers cut from their budget is training and development. A down economy is actually a golden opportunity to get young workers involved in stretch assignments and more training and development which can build sustainability for your company. By offering Gen Y the opportunity to train inside your company, you may be able to negotiate a more affordable fee or salary short- term in exchange for leadership and skill development and mentoring with a more seasoned manager or leader. Gen Y thrives on development, so do your best to take advantage of that desire when times get tough..