GenY Article

“We’re here, and we’re here to stay” says Emma Reynolds, co-founder of E3 Unlimited and the driving force behind the recent “Ask Generation Y” conference. She is referring to Gen Y, that group of 7.9 million individuals in the UK aged between 9 and 29 who have been brought up by Baby Boomers to expect everything and to settle for nothing less. She adds, “We are the people who will make or break your business over the next 10 to 20 years”.

According to Doctor Paul Redmond, Head of Careers and Employability Service at Liverpool University, Gen Y individuals are complex and full of contradictions; they’re technologically savvy, yet highly creative; environmentally conscious, yet highly mobile; they expect instant rewards, but demand long term development. They don’t recognise a world without mobile ‘phones, bebo or facebook. They don’t remember Morecambe & Wise or pacman. And the UK business world is only just beginning to recognise them, doubt about understand them.

So, what does this mean for UK businesses and for the legal sector in particular? Kara Penridge, Managing Director of Garfield Robbins, a leading legal recruitment consultancy, believes that whilst strong candidates still consider career progression and remuneration to be important when applying for a new position, they increasingly look to responsibilities and duties and to a strong commitment to training and development as the key differentiators in choosing which employer to join. In addition, she says that they also need to feel a strong sense of identity and alignment with a new employer whom they are considering joining and are heavily influenced by that employer’s brand and what it stands for, having become increasingly immune to the now almost generic “Our people are our greatest assets” claims of employers. Once recruited, Penridge says that Gen Y employees are prepared to work hard and will demand career progression, having the potential to achieve more than their predecessors (the so called “Baby Boomers” and “Generation X’s”) provided they are well managed and developed.

Kate Gregg, Legal Resourcing Manager at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, agrees, adding that, to the extent that law firms haven’t already changed to attract and retain these individuals by replacing punishing long hours and short social lives as the foundation and career track to achieving a coveted partnership, they need to adapt quickly to embrace this change and to avoid complacency. “We need to attract today to recruit tomorrow’s talent”, she concludes.

As is often the case, only time will identify the profession’s (and UK corporate’s) winners and losers. One thing, however, does seem to be clear – Gen Y has arrived.

The question is, “Is your culture ready to embrace the demands that they bring”?

© Garfield Robbins

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