What makes Generation Y workers tick?

Research undertaken by the Department of Industrial Psychology at the North-West University has identified some of the factors that will not only attract Generation Y employees, but retain this talented and upwardly mobile sector of the workforce.

The findings were recently presented to international delegates at the 30th Pan Pacific Business Conference, which took place at the Sandton ConventionCentre in Johannesburg in early June.

Staged by the Pan Pacific Business Association, the conference, which focused on the legacies of emerging economies, was hosted by the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

The survey highlighted five reward and remuneration practices regarded as significant to Generation Y respondents from both the English and Afrikaans speaking communities. These included career development, base salary, retirement benefits, training opportunities and work-life balance. The research team, headed by Nicolene Barkhuizen, embarked on the study in an effort to guide business organisations wanting to build talented and stable talent pools, deemed essential to competitiveness in the 21st century.
Generation Y, sometimes termed Generation We or the Millenial Generation, refers to people born in the decades post 1980 and brought up in relative comfort with access to good education. Ambitious, confident and achievement-oriented, they are said to switch jobs more than any other generation before them. They crave change, opportunity and stimulation in their working lives.

Barkhuizen commented that members of this generation changed their jobs with ease and they were constantly looking out for better prospects and more rewarding positions in reputable firms and prestigious settings. The researchers used a questionnaire based on the Total Rewards Strategy of the World at Work Society, a global, non-profit human resources association for remuneration professionals. This society identifies five elements of total rewards: compensation, benefits, work-life, performance and recognition and development and career opportunities. Combined, these elements contribute to an organisation’s strategy to attract, motivate and retain employees.

The North-West University study revealed differences between the two language groups that were also representative of different ethnic groups.
While Afrikaans speakers rated career development as the top factor to attract them to a company, English and indigenous speakers indicated their partiality for health care benefits. Respondents viewed the least important reward and remuneration practices as shares, followed by perks, savings and leadership style.

The survey concluded that the successful customisation of reward strategies by managers and practitioners could lead to the attraction, motivation and retaining of talented employees who can effectively contribute to business performance and results.

This statement was prepared on behalf of the University of Johannesburg

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