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Gen Ys know what they want

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As Malaysia’s young talent become more aggressive with their career choices, employers must realign their talent strategies to better recruit and retain Gen Ys.

In line with the national agenda to develop Malaysia into a high income nation by 2020, talent has been identified has a key factor to drive innovation and knowledge-based growth – starting with the country’s youngest employees.

“It is incumbent on corporate Malaysia to better engage Gen Y if we are to attract, retain and motivate our emerging top talent,” TalentCorp CEO, Johan Mahmood Merican, said at a recent forum titled, Beyond Rewards: What Keeps Your Employees Happy?

The forum, which featured a panel discussion with Merican, General Electric (GE) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), emphasised the importance of understanding this new breed of talent and how to attract and motivate them beyond financial compensation.

Heather Wang, vice president human resources for GE global growth and operations, said because approximately 72% of the company’s employees in Malaysia are between 25 and 40 years old, they place a lot of importance on understanding what motivated the next generation of leaders.

“At GE, learning is deeply embedded in our culture and we take the development of our people very seriously,” she said.

“We recognise the impact and influence that leaders have on the people around them, and are focused on continuing to nurture the best leaders who can meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

The concerns about recruiting and retaining Gen Ys is echoed across the region, with more than half of Singaporean bosses believing the difficulties stem from young talent’s unrealistic expectations of career advancements and salaries.

A survey by Robert Half has found 54% of Singaporean employers believe Gen Ys are the hardest group to recruit, compared to Gen X (21%) and Baby Boomers (9%).

There are also more local (59%) than global (45%) employers who find Gen Ys challenging to retain.

Eighty per cent of bosses said Gen Ys are a handful to attract and retain because they have high expectations for career progression, while 75% of employers said younger talent believe they are worth more than they really are.

Stella Tang, director of Robert Half Singapore, called Gen Y employees the generation “that ‘wants it all’ and they ‘want it now’ – good pay, benefits, rapid career advancement, work-life harmony, interesting and meaningful work”.

Therefore, she said companies have to be better at engaging Gen Y employees and give them roles that challenge and leverage on their strengths in order to better retain them.

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