Show Me the Money. Seriously, But That’s Not All.

July 7, 2007

Time’s Lisa Takeuchi Cullen recently commented at her blog, Work in Progress, that she’d prefer cash as her top reward for a job well done. So I’ve been thinking – what do most Gen Y workers want the most?

The answer is not as clear cut as it may seem. I think if most Gen Y workers I know were asked to pick only one of the list of traditional “retention” techniques, more money would be at the top of the list. But the problem with this answer is, it’s a given. Everyone wants to make more money. I certainly do. So much that it’s basically a non-answer, because as the job market tightens, companies are starting to offer more and more money to people starting out. It’s there for recruiting, so it makes sense that it should stay there for retention as well. So to all the employers out there: get ready to pony up the cash, because your talented, top-performing young workers don’t just deserve it, they know they do. And if you don’t give it to them, they will find another job somewhere else that does. Don’t even waste your time wondering about it. The jobs are opening up, so you better open up your pocketbook as well. It will cost you at least 150% the annual cost of a worker’s salary to replace them – so ROI is on the side of higher salaries, too. So, wanting more money’s a given. Hopefully, young workers getting paid what they deserve follows suit. Let’s move on to the rest of the mix.  

One of favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk recently wrote a column for Time about what the Gen Y worker wants. I read it, and I think she’s right on. My answer to her question of what the Gen Y worker wants is simple and to-the-point.

We want everything – well, all the good stuff, that is. We want flexible schedules, career advancement opportunities, a great relationship with our boss and co-workers, interesting tasks and assignments, training and education, professional advancement, community involvement and volunteerism, access to technology, all of it. Who doesn’t want those great things, right? But will we get them? 

Employers need to realize that the time is coming when the Googles of the world will make it so talented workers don’t have to settle for anything less. So watch out, world. Generation Y is on a serious mission to radically change the work world. And if our employers don’t do it for us, don’t worry about it. It’s not us I’m worried about, it’s them. I have a feeling we’ll be fine.

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5 Responses to “Show Me the Money. Seriously, But That’s Not All.”


  1. Tiffany – As a creeky old Boomer with no interest in retiring, I am fascinated by the assumption that different generations want radically different things out of work.There’s nothing on your quite excellent Gen Y list that would be out of place on my list, that’s for sure – although my days of seeking out career advancement are behind me. While there may be some distinctions between and among generations – and there can’t help but be, given we’ve grown up with different experiences – I believe that fundamentally, we all pretty much want the same things out of life.

    What HAS changed, and will have a radical impact on Gen Y’s, are macro forces – globalization, technology. Yes, you want to remake the workplace (go for it!), but recognize that in many ways it’s being remade for you. What I really enjoy about the Gen Y is your getting in front of those forces and making them your own. A lot better than getting steam-rolled by them and asking yourself 40 years later what exactly happened!


  2. But there is one difference between and among the generations. Us creeky Boomers also don’t have the eyesight we used to. Those small fonts…..

  3. elysa Says:

    I completely agree that we do want everything. In an ideal world I would tele-commute part of the time, coming into work only for big meetings or project reviews; personal relationships no only with co-workers but also with the clients; interesting tasks is a big one for me; conferences, professional associations and other training are also ideal for me; the list can go on. I would say however that I know that it’s not always possible to get everything on your list in one place. I don’t expect to get everything on my list but I like to add new things for the future. I know a lot of Gen Yers who do some sort of freelance work for extra money and entertainment outside of the 9-to-5 as well.


  4. […] Money does matter. My first salary was hardly anything to wipe the floor with, let alone live on, but I was passionate about the job […]


  5. […] point that I was happy to hear in person from someone at his level: Young workers today want – among other things – volunteerism opportunities from the companies they are going to work for. This isn’t the first […]

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