Small business cool on Gen-Y

Generation-Y employees are the least favoured by small businesses, according to a new survey.

The latest Sensis Business Index, based on interviews with 1800 businesses, found small businesses prefer baby boomers followed by Generation-X.

Sensis’s Christena Singh said given the choice, small businesses were twice as likely to hire a baby boomer or Gen-X employee over a Gen-Y employee.

The findings reflect the results of an SME Opinion Leaders poll, a survey of 315 SME owners across the country conducted by SmartCompany in conjunction with Roy Morgan Research and Dun & Bradstreet, in July this year.

It revealed a deep ambivalence of SME employers towards Gen-Ys, those born between 1977 and 1992 and now aged 15 to 30.

Poor spelling and grammar and a failure to understand what constitutes appropriate corporate behaviour are the biggest bugbears, with almost 70% of surveyed employers reporting dissatisfaction with their Gen-Y employees’ performance in those areas.

The communication skills of Gen-Y staff disappointed 48% of SME owners, while 37% complained Gen-Ys lacked acceptable technical skills.

The Sensis Business Index found that 29% of small businesses prefer baby boomers for their reliability, experience, quality of work and professional attitude. Their weaknesses are perceived as lack of technical skills and age.

And 28% prefer Gen-X for their reliability, technical skills and enthusiasm. “However, family commitments are seen by some employers as a downside to employing this generation,” Singh says.

“It is interesting to note SMEs generally prefer to hire employees from their own generation, which means they might not get the diversity their business may need,” Singh says.

The Sensis Business Index shows baby boomers prefer to hire other baby boomers (33%), followed by Generation-X (23%) and Generation-Y (14%).

Singh says about half of Gen-X SME operators preferred to hire fellow Gen-Xers.

About one in five Gen-X SME operators prefer baby boomer employees, while one in 10 would select a Gen-Y employee.

Only 13% of SME owners preferred to recruit Gen-Y staff. “Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn are Gen-Y’s greatest assets, but reliability, lack of experience, frequent job changing and personal attitude caused concerns for small business employers.”

Overall, SMEs ranked baby boomer employees the best value for money, followed by Gen-X and then Gen-Y.

Read our story on how to make the most of Gen-Y employees.



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