Last week I presented at a conference on Campus Recruitment. My topic was “Welcoming & Engaging Your New Grads”. The participants were representatives from both HR and line positions who were accountable for developing and managing their organizations’ strategies for branding & attraction, recruitment & selection and orientation & onboarding for new grads.

As is the case at many current conferences, generational differences were a hot topic of conversation, with much hand-wringing about what to do to meet the needs of these demanding Gen Y and Millennial new grads.

After all…this generation has the nerve to have an awfully long list of expectations with respect to their new hire experience. Let’s take a peek at some of these demands:

1. They want to “feel connected” when they join the organization. We gave them a job offer… don’t they know they have a place to belong now??
2. They have the nerve to ask how they are going to experience “meaning” in their work. And this is only their first week…the photocopier is over there dude!
3. They want to know how they can get ahead… don’t they know that they have to do their time for goodness sake??
4. They’re asking a lot of questions about when they’ll get to work with a Team. What is this a sports franchise?? Can’t they just buckle down and get to their assigned tasks?
5. They’re constantly looking for feedback. These new grads are like needy puppy dogs!

I am of the belief that there is absolutely an element of truth to each of these “demands”. And at the same time, of course there’s an undertone of sarcasm to my observations.

‘Cause here’s the thing. If we can just take a deep breath and step back for a minute from the frustration we’re experiencing in feeling pressured to accommodate this list, we might be able to see the irony in this list.

What if we were to flip our own resistance on it’s head and look at the very opportunity that is being created by Gen Y and Millennial new hires. How might they be in fact asking us to do what we should have been doing YEARS ago?

Generational “differences” aside… shouldn’t a great onboarding experience do the following?

1. Foster connectivity for all new hires
2. Identify ways for new hires (even new grads) to have a sense of meaning in their work or of contribution to the organization
3. Articulate the ways that “people get ahead around here” by making the unwritten rules as transparent as possible.
4. Provide opportunities to work with and learn from other great people in the organization through cross-functional teams, project teams, CSR initiatives etc.
5. Offer feedback—on strengths, capabilities, opportunities and developmental needs as early and as often as possible.

So, rather than railing against the vocal expression of these expectations, what if we were to be thankful that our “customers” for the onboarding experience are finally speaking their minds and creating enough of a burning platform for us to simply get on with all the great things we’ve long wanted to do to foster an enviable Onboarding experience for new hires at all levels and stages of their careers?

Isn’t the list of “unreasonable demands” in fact a prescription for a developing a successful onboarding program?

I’d love you to share your comments.