Recruiting Gen Y: Creating a Platform for Success

For sure it's an oversimplification to say, “It’s a generational thing.” But there ARE some key differences between Millennials and their older counterparts in the design world. The Business of Design Summit will investigate this, among other topics. As Brand Design Director in Gensler’s Denver office, Harry Spetnagel is responsible for hiring the new talent in his group—so he understands the unique opportunities and challenges that Gen Y designers bring. At SEGD’s Business of Design Summit Feb. 19 in Denver, he'll share his perspective on attracting, hiring, and keeping young design talent. As a sneak preview, he shared his top 3 tips for keeping Gen Y workers happy:

1. Give them exciting opportunities.
They want to do meaningful, exciting work. Who doesn’t? Often we’re hiring younger designers because they have the skillsets we’re looking for, particularly in digital technology. But not all of our work requires digital technology. So we have to look for little moments in each project to create meaningful stuff. Maybe it’s a motion graphic or a branded element, or a small digital component. You have to make sure your new talent gets a crack at some of the cherry stuff, too—not just the lower-level “grunt” work.

2. Give them frequent feedback.
They’ve grown up being connected 24/7. They’re used to a continuous—and immediate—feedback loop about what they’re doing and how they’re performing. Sometimes they have to adjust to the fact that we just can’t provide that feedback immediately. And as employers, we also need to be aware that this is what they want, and adjust as we can. Some of it is about recognition and some of it is them basically asking, “Are you paying attention to what I’m doing and can you help me learn and grow?” That needs to be honored.

3. Give them authorship.
There’s a fine line here. We want them to own their work and be engaged and excited about what they do. A lot of this comes down to chemistry on project teams. You don’t want it to seem like only “the old guys” have authorship. Everyone should, and we need to work hard to make sure everyone feels heard and valuable. They’re young, but they have a much lower tolerance for doing work that’s not meaningful to them.

Watch Harry Spetnagel's SEGDTalk videofrom the workshop.

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