Make Sense of Gen Y and Improve Hiring With These 5 Social Media Ideas

Last Updated: January 16, 2020

Yesterday, after leaving the beautiful and sunny San Diego I tried to drown my sorrows in a fresh issue of The Wall Street Journal. Flipping through the pages, I came across an article on Silicon Valley’s Stock Funk. In it, the authors interviewed a few employees of Facebook, Instagram and Zynga – and some of their comments just struck me as everything that is wrong with hiring these days.

Fast Money

A few of the employees interviewed indicated they’ll leave their current company to look for other opportunities because their stock payoff wasn’t as big as expected… Just to put this into perspective: Instagram was launched in 2010. That’s a bit more then 2 years ago. It was acquired for 1 Billion and its 13 employees stood to make a tidy sum… that is until Facebook stocks started tanking. I’m using Instagram (meet the staff) here as an example, but it’s indicative of the Fast Money mentality. If you happen to jump on the right ship – in 2 years, you could be a millionaire. Certainly an attractive proposition to any 20-something (let’s not kid around here, we’re all in that boat… but most of the players in question are of that age).

But Will They Stay?

But how does Fast Money interface with loyalty and a culture of innovation? In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek introduces Samuel Pierpont Langley – a man who was well funded and backed by the biggest industries in order to make a flying machine. A few hundred miles away, the Wright brothers went out day after day to create an airplane, funded by the sales from their bicycle shop and driven by their desire to move the world forward. Simon famously asks: have you heard of Samuel Pierpoint Langley? It would seem his motivation was fame and fortune for as soon as Wright brothers took flight [video] – he quit.

If the dominant reason for joining a company is to make out like a bandit in the IPO – will that workforce stick with you and help you weather the hard times or will they jump at the next opportunity to cash out and let you sink like a fat guy in a freshwater pool?

Challenge with Gen Y

Let’s say you’re not Facebook, or any of these post-dot-com entities and let’s say you’re looking to infuse some new blood into your organization. A good portion of the candidates will belong in the enigmatic Gen Y part of the population. There are a bazillion suggestions of how to hire Gen Y’s and how they’re different, difficult to manage and all that hogwash – here’s the real deal:

The challenge in hiring Gen Y’s lies in the fundamental generational differences in understanding how the world works. When I explore these differences with audiences – one of the exercises we do is brainstorm the music that defined each generation. Most baby boomers (unless they have children at the age in question) have no idea what “kids are listening to these days”. Similarly, most Gen Y-ers have little idea who the Grateful Dead are… or The Beatles… or Frank Zappa. We’ll also discuss what the world is / was like during their formative years (early 20’s). It then becomes clear how vastly different our understanding of the world and how it works is. By the way, this exercise was imparted to me by Ginger Grant – one of the very few PhD’s in Jungian Psychology.

Kill the Differences

Solution is to kill the differences. Rather then focusing on how everyone is different and which management style to use to keep people in line – focus on what brings like minded people together. Common interests and values. Reasons to join an organization beyond salary. Because if that’s all you have to offer – how quickly will the best people leave if they get a better offer?

Is there a cause, a reason for your organization’s existence that you can rally your current and future employees around? A friend of mine has been building a company that will fundamentally challenge the communications industry and change the way we think about phones and connecting. I can get behind that… and so can anyone who believes in challenging the status quo and geeking out on new technology. The best part is that it doesn’t matter which generation you’re in. What motivates us to act are our beliefs – manifested through our interests and values. What is your battle cry?

Social Media to the Rescue

So, that’s all fine and dandy – but what can you actually DO? Well, let’s take some social media tools and see if we can come up with a few ideas:

Create a weekly “From the CEO’s Office” video – I know, I know… you hate to be on video. But so do 99% of other CEOs. So why don’t you get over it and be a leader in your industry instead of blending in with the furniture. Keep your employees and stakeholders informed while putting a human face to your organization.

Share your struggles – Whenever I ask other speakers how things are going, it’s all rainbows and unicorns – and I KNOW the real story is quite different. Most leaders will put on the same mask. Instead, share some of your struggles and how you’re planning to overcome them as a leader and as an organization. Be real for once.

Have an internal Instagram contest – Why not offer an extra week of paid vacation to one of your employees? If that’s too rich, how about a dinner with the CEO? Have everyone instagram one product, book or idea that helps them save time. Vote on the best idea and reward the originator.

Show you care… on Facebook – Most organizations use Facebook (poorly) as a public facing look-at-our-stuff entity. How about using Facebook as a direct link to your employees to share their ideas and suggestions about an idea they’d like to work on? Or asking for their feedback about a new service you’re considering offering. This publicly shows responsibility and accountability to your team. And that’s sexy.

Host a Twitter jobfair – Forget Monster, Workopolis or whatever… host an online jobfair with a dedicated hashtag where anyone interested can pose a question directly to one of your employees or someone from the leadership team. Do it for an hour monthly and support it with some Facebook and Google Ads.

These are just a few ideas that will illuminate your organization’s culture and attract the RIGHT people. People who connect to your raison d’entre. BIG CAVEAT: If your sole reason for existence is to satisfy shareholders and make as much money as possible – then those are the kind of people you’ll get. Social media won’t suddenly make your organization awesome [Tweet this]. THAT change comes from the leadership and is only amplified by these tools.

– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter