Managers concerned for the future because of Gen Y, says Ashridge

Employee retention is the biggest concern for managers worldwide about the under-30s in Generation Y, according to a report published today by Ashridge Business School.

Ashridge found that frequent job changes and lack of life skills mean that future leaders lack the experience to enable them to judge risk and make effective decisions, managers believe.

The report, Culture Shock: Generation Y and their managers around the world, analyses the relationship between 'Gen Y' graduates – widely described as a group of people under 30 years old – and their leaders.

The report states that Gen Y has grown up in a different environment to previous generations, comes to the workplace with different skills, is motivated by different things, thinks differently about learning and development and approaches work relationships differently.

The report found that Gen Y graduates want a varied career, have little patience and will leave a job quickly if it doesn't meet their own personal ideals. It also found that Gen Y tends to stay in a job under two years.

In the UK, only 57% intend to remain in their current role for two years, 62% in India and 75% in the Middle East. Malaysian graduate employees are the most loyal, with 87% intending to stay for two years, according to Ashridge.

The report found that although managers admire the intelligence and energy of young professionals, they dislike graduates' pursuit of fame and recognition, self-focus, over-confidence and lack of teamwork and respect.

According to the report, managers feel strongly that today's graduates lack 'life skills' compared with previous generations, and recommend that they get work experience, and develop their emotional intelligence, communication and people skills.

A mismatch of expectations between managers and graduates is a pressing issue, the report claims. For example, 66% of Malaysian managers claim that managing graduate expectations is their overriding concern. Graduates have high expectations of responsibility, progression and challenging, interesting work where they can make changes, whereas managers expect excellent skills, teamwork and adaptation to the organisation. Graduates want speedy promotion to management, and unmet expectations cause them to leave.

The younger workers surveyed do not 'live to work', they 'work to live'.

The report claims that for Gen Y, 30 is the new 20. Graduates are enjoying their twenties exploring jobs and having a good work/life balance. Managers are seen as burnt out through heavy workload. As Gen Y goes in search of jobs, it has different priorities - it does not want its managers' jobs, especially the lifestyle, which creates a challenge for talent management and succession planning initiatives.

Sue Honore, researcher, Ashridge Business School, said: "Generation Y has grown up with X-Factor, Facebook and mobile phones, and against a background of rapid changes in technology and shifting political and cultural norms.

"Today's young professionals have different priorities from previous generations. Gen Y is already radically altering the employment landscape globally, and a new, growing workforce will soon be stepping up and challenging traditional models within companies.

"By capitalising on the unique contributions and strengths of this generation, a better workforce as a whole can be created. All generations need to review their differences and find new ways of working for the future – both managers and Gen Y need to adapt to the changing world of work."

The report was based on a global survey of 2,900 managers and graduates, and 100 in-depth interviews. These were conducted between June and October 2012.