How do consultancies attract and retain the best Gen Y talent?


In the management consultancy industry, you often hear organisations saying their people are their greatest asset and the key differentiator in a highly competitive marketplace.

Added on 25 February 2015 by Erika Lucas

Gen Y talent

So how do consultancy firms attract and retain the best Generation Y talent – and what are the expectations of Generation Y employees working in the management consultancy industry today?
Andrew Ktoris (Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Human Capital Consultancy Practice)  examined these issues during his MBA at Ashridge Business School.  In particular, he looked at the use of Employee Value Propositions (the experience offered by an employer in exchange for the productivity and performance of an employee) and at how the workplace expectations of Generation Y employees are being fulfilled in practice.

The Use of Employee Value Propositions

The research highlighted that the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) concept is extensively used in consultancy firms. Aligning HR processes to bring an EVP to life was seen to be critical in achieving a sustainable competitive advantage in the war for talent.

Significantly, organisations are increasingly bringing their EVP to life not through the words of in-house recruiters, but through their own consultants - providing first-hand insights that appear to resonate with Gen Y.

The research also implies that EVP communication in the management consultancy industry appears to be more focused on ‘the give’ and less about ‘the get’ – potentially leading to some unrealistic expectations when Gen Y join the organisation.

There was also a clear correlation between EVP, employee engagement and, ultimately, an organisation’s financial bottom-line performance.

Are Gen Y expectations being met?

The research showed that in certain cases the most important expectations are being met. For example, ‘Interesting and challenging work’, ‘working for a well-known company’, and the ‘quality and calibre of colleagues’.

There were, however, initiatives which could further improve employee engagement, such as being recognised and rewarded for your individual contribution and having a meritocratic culture where high performers are promoted quicker.

The survey also highlighted the importance for Gen Y management consultants of working  for an employer that offers clear opportunities for ‘long-term’ career progression.

Another highly significant finding was that having a strong alumni network was the least valued EVP attribute for Gen Y employees. This indicates that in an increasingly social media savvy world,  Gen Y do not rely on their employer to develop their professional networks.


The study recommended that management consultancy organisations should:

  • Ensure all key HR processes - recruitment, reward, training and development, and performance management - are aligned and support ‘bringing the EVP to life’
  • Involve Gen Y representatives on project teams where EVP strategy is formulated
  • Revise performance management and reward mechanisms to better recognise the individual contribution of consultants on projects and facilitate a meritocratic performance culture
  • Provide greater clarity on the long-term career opportunities and career paths available
  • Recognise and reward existing employees who communicate with potential Gen Y recruits to help bring the EVP to life
  • Set up a dedicated project team to explore the future role and value of corporate alumni networks
  • Evaluate existing EVP communication both internally and externally to ensure the emphasis is on both ‘the give’ and ‘the get’

About Andrew Ktoris

Andrew KortisAndrew Ktoris is an experienced organisational development (OD) and change management professional. Andrew spent ten years working in management consultancy for Accenture, followed by five years as Head of OD at Virgin Trains. Andrew has recently completed his MBA at Ashridge Business School and is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD).

More information

For a copy of the full report, contact Chris Johnson
Find out more about the Ashridge MBA
See Ashridge’s latest research on Generation Y
See our article on Gen Y in the latest issue of the journal 360.