A few months ago I was chatting to our Head of Learning and Development, Gill White, about the introduction of e-learning into our business and why we are asking employees to undertake some training before they formally join us. Why would someone want to do training before they actually start work? The answer, because it’s the golden fortnight…..
The first thing to remember is that we are mainly taking on GenY’s (mid-1970s to the late 1980s, early or mid 1990s, or as late as the early 2000′s).
If you conclude that constant development is hugely important to them, it makes sense that they are prepared to start the psychological contract with their employer as quickly as possible.
Research from the CIPD in 2009 proported that over 40% of new starters practically immediately start looking for a new job. Engaging them and setting the right first impression is therefore a necessity.
Certain companies such as Marston’s and Apple have made the most of the “post offer” but “pre day one” gap in time (known sometimes as the “Golden Fortnight”). Of course it’s a perfect time to “influence” the new employee. Research indicates that the employee is more committed to the company and brand at that stage then they are after they actually start working for the company. This is put down to their ideological “dreaming” of what the new job might be like.
These companies have used this time to send the new starter links to pre starter e-learning – ranging from induction information, company history, food safety training, health and safety training etc. The feedback from the Gen Y’ers is that they feel more engaged and confident after completing this pre start work.
What’s a Gen-Y?
From the research of Strauss and Howe (established as the most cited writers about Gen-Y’ers) this generation have central tendencies:
They have been told all of their lives by their baby boomer parents that they are special. This is the generation used to receiving a ribbon just for taking part in a sports day at school, even if they didn’t cross the line. This has led to them being extremely self-aware and not needing the comfort of “fitting in” – it makes them authentic but not necessarily astute. They seek continuous personal development, to further understand who they really are and are happy to go wherever they see that need being fulfilled the quickest.
Gen-Y’ers have had their lives organised for them to give direction. They are used to being told what’s happening next and provided with support to achieve results. This has led them to be highly motivated individuals with no clear life plan. This is a particular issue for Gen-X’er’s (usually their line managers) as they are so independent and are used to going out there and making it happen on their own.
Gen-Y’ers have come to expect good news and believe in themselves. They have been consistently rewarded for the most normal of behaviours throughout their lives and this has led to others perceiving them as having a sense of entitlement. They are confident of their ability to match the effort required to meet the expectations others place on them and are motivated to do so as long as their own expectations of beneficial outcomes are met
Interestingly this generation understand social order and have a healthy respect for authority – if they respect the person in authority. They value experience and what they can learn from it, but do not respond to being dictated to or lectured. When they join a company they are often most interested in understanding the CEO’s personal story and they are likely to respond well to his or her calls to action. If they lose respect for those in charge of the company, they are likely to leave. It is said they make heroes of those who they see as “leading people through the valley” and have aspirations of doing the same.
Having spent all of their lives communicating 24/7 with their friends, Gen-Y’s prefer to work together. There is less pressure on them in a team and they enjoy taking collective action. They find it difficult to deal with difficult people or situations and expect to be protected by someone in authority.
There is a high need to feel a sense of achievement from this group. They have come to associate achievement with reward and will expect that any achievement will result in some type of recognition. They are very oriented around the value of “fairness” and comply with most requests unless they see that they are being treated subjectively. The communication and demonstration of clear and fair practices are vital to avoid their cynicism.
Schneider and Stevenson concluded in their study of “Millennial’s” at college in 1999 that:
“ There is a concern that high school grade inflation, combined with a decrease in study time, might be setting Millennial students up for unrealistic expectations for what it takes to succeed academically and to prepare themselves professionally”
In contradiction Howe and Strauss feel that Gen-Y’s are:
“generally hardworking, cheerful, earnest and deferential. However they are also recognised as messy, easily distracted, full of disappointment and also full of promise. Gen-Y’s have characteristics that are at once enjoyable and challenging.”