What do small businesses, non-profits and church employers have in common? If nothing else, it’s providing competitive compensation packages for the people they need on their teams.

That’s why a recent study by Deloitte Consulting LLP offers some good news for all three sectors. The study, “Competing for Talent,” discovered that while 71% of responding employers are relying on financial incentives to attract and keep people, money isn’t the most important consideration for Generation Y members now entering the workforce.

What Gen Y workers — those currently 20 to 27 — value even more than money is greater freedom in their schedules and more control of where and how they work. But perhaps even more important, that’s also becoming truer of workers in other age groups.

The study reported that workers “aren’t as interested as they used to be in hefty compensation packages and fancy retirement plans. Today’s workers don’t mind working hard. They just want to do it on their terms.” Among incentives that flexible employers can offer to get and keep top young talent are opportunities to:

  • work from home at least part of the time;
  • adjust their work schedules around their personal schedules;
  • work closely with a mentor who has top-notch credentials and knows how to nurture people;
  • continue developing their professional skills, including an individualized career development plan.

The Deloitte study’s advice to employers: “consider adopting programs that meet the needs of the [employer] — and each employee — instead of offering people big financial incentives, but then forcing them to adapt to the requirements of the job. These days that traditional approach just doesn’t fly.”

This is especially true for Gen Y workers — those 20 to 27. “They are looking for a customized career that matches their customized workplace. It’s not the money, it’s the experience and the exposure to anyone they want to talk to,” says Jeff Alderton, principal and national industry leader with Deloitte Consulting’s human capital services area.

Studies indicate Gen Y workers tend to be high-tech but not very high-touch. Having spent so much time competing as individuals in classrooms and in front of computer screens, often they don’t know how to work in teams on a face-to-face basis. They’re anxious to make their mark individually. So learning how to contribute in teams to projects beyond the scope of any one person is a new experience for them, and they often require some patient mentoring on the part of more experienced peers and supervisors to adapt to a team culture.

But since they value frequent feedback — even if they can have trouble handling criticism — nurturing leaders can help them grow professionally and contribute, two things that matter very much to them.


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