Written by Marcel Als Borngräber-Berthelsen

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Written by Marcel Als Borngräber-Berthelsen |

Aalborg University

Recruiting and Retaining Generation Y – A New Workforce

Title Page


10th semester, Aalborg University

Framework of the project:

MSc Thesis

Time framework of the project:

12 March 2008 – August 2008

Project Title:

Recruiting and Retaining Generation Y – A New Workforce

Word count: 38,654
Thesis Advisor:

Jan Kristensen


Marcel Als Borngräber-Berthelsen, DK

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 4

1Introduction and Problem Statement 6

Methodology 20

Defining Generations X and Y 31

Generation Y: Entering the Workforce 71

Reviewing the Thesis 94

Bibliography 99

Appendix: Description of Veterans and Baby Boomers 102


Figure 2 1 How the Three Methodological Approaches Relate to Each Other 22

Figure 2 2 Cyclical Nature of the Knowledge Creating Methods 25

Figure 2 3 Bloom's Taxonomy 29

Figure 3 4 Generations Presently in the Workforce 33

Figure 3 5 Defining Events for Generation X 36

Figure 3 6 Key Events Experienced by Generation Y 41

Figure 3 7 Generational Placement for Power Distance 61

Figure 3 8 Generational Placement for Uncertainty Avoidance 61

Figure 3 9 Generational Placement for Individualism 62

Figure 3 10 Generational Placement for Masculinity 63

Figure 3 11 Inter Generational Synergy 69

Figure 4 12 Creating a model for Recruiting and Retaining Generation Y 71

Figure 4 13 Maslow's Motivational Pyramid 79

Figure 4 14 Retaining Generation Y 85

Figure 4 15 Working with Generation Y 90

Figure 4 16 Organisational Optimisation Process towards Generation Y 92

Figure 7 17 Defining Events Exclusive to Veterans 103

Figure 7 18 Defining Events for the Baby Boomers 107


Table 1 1 Thesis Structure 17

Table 3 2 Age Distribution of Final Year UK University Students 51

Table 3 3 Finalist's Experiences During University 52

Table 3 4 Personal Skills & Attributes that Finalists Developed during University 53

Table 3 5 Graduate Vacancies at AGR Employers in 2008 56

Table 4 6 Finalists who used Graduate Recruitment Websites during their job search 74

Recruiting and Retaining Generation Y – A New Workforce

Marcel Als Borngräber-Berthelsen

August 2008

Executive Summary

This Thesis presents a hypothesis stating that Generation Y will change the workforce deployed in companies, challenging applied leaderships styles, management and the approach to Human Resource Management from both, the employee as well as the employer´s perspective. Based on analysis and comparison to currently available data this hypothesis will be either substantiated or refuted.

An understanding of whom and what Generation Y is, and how companies best can engage them to meet the requirements of both the company and the employee, is developed. By developing and applying a model, created and based on a critical and analytical evaluation of characteristics of Generation Y and well known theories, this understanding is supported.

While the outgoing generation of Baby Boomers and the workforce of Generation X have shaped the working environment of today, the emerging Generation Y will contribute to shaping the workforce over years to come. Due to its size, compared to the smaller Generation X and the gradual retirement of Baby Boomers, Generation Y has the potential of having a large influence on the working environment.

The Thesis provides an understanding of who Generations X and Y are and what characterises these generations. Based on a historical perspective, the key events occurring in their lifetime, shaping their view of the world, are analysed. Eight characteristics of Yers are looked at in detail including views on Work-Life Balance and Company Loyalty. To ensure the characteristics identified are representative of Generation Y they are verified by two surveys conducted in the United Kingdom in 2008 by High Fliers for the Times and the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Along with a similar description of Generation X the two generations are compared, identifying where they are similar and where they are different. This comparison provides the potential of achieving inter-generational synergy.

Characteristics such as being technologically literate, highly socially conscious and having little loyalty towards an employer have a direct bearing upon how best to engage this generation. Furthermore, these characteristics are also having a profound impact on how to attract, recruit and retain this workforce in years to come, seen from an employers perspective. Given the extent of the topic, it was decided to limit the Thesis to reflecting only the three named critical elements: attraction, recruitment and retention of the Generation Y, analysed by using the theories by Hofstede, Maslow and McGregor, as sssues companies need to be aware of. Additionally, companies need to understand how the characteristics of Generation Y influence these critical elements before employers can introduce changes to their present practices.

To support the understanding of not only these characteristics but also demands emerging thereof and the implications to a company, a high level model was developed to help guide companies when dealing with Generation Y. This model is made up of three sections, Attracting Yers, Recruiting Yers and Retaining Yers, with each section detailing particular characteristics companies need to be aware of.

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