In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new generational cohort entering the workplace and they are making their presence known. Generation Y (aka iGeneration, Google Generation, Millennium Generation, and the Boomerang Generation), have grown up in a world of diverse Internet resources. If you want to bring out the best in your Generation Y workforce, you may have to begin by letting go of traditional methods in favor of a more creative approach.
According to experts, Generation Y workers were born generally from 1977-2002. Their force is almost 80 million strong, outnumbering the Boomers by approximately one million. In a recent survey conducted among hiring managers and human resource professionals, across all industries, the generation gap is more pronounced in the areas of communication styles and job expectations in the workplace.
The business world as we know it is changing. As the skilled Boomers retire, companies will have to go the extra mile to replace them. Gen Y workers will have a huge impact on the workplace. An inaccurate description of this group is since they have been pampered their whole life they are lazy. They are not only high maintenance but high performing as well. This generation of workers comes computer literate and high tech ready. In addition they have very high expectations of themselves.
Employers are scrambling to implement new policies and programs that appeal to the new workforce. Those managers that hold steady to old beliefs about the workplace and how work is done in the business world—will find themselves out of jobs. There is still much to be learned about this new cohort of workers but here’s a start on some basic principles to keep in mind.
Recruiting — Gen Y are civic minded and socially conscious and very aware of the world. They volunteer and feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world. Gen Y is all about choices and meaningful work and social networks. Don’t be put off by the tattoos or piercing, those are considered stylish and/or spiritual.
Motivate — They like to have choices focusing on output, not method. They’ll get the job completed according to the deadline but will resent being reminded to. Members of Gen Y are not obsessed with work. Although they want to make good money, it is not what motivates them. You will find social networks of friends are their preferred environment and they love to be decorated with their iPods, BlackBerrys, and laptops. Realizing anything is possible, they are determined to live their best lives now.
Retain — Gen Y is known for gender bending. When creating new policies, list the benefits without assumptions as to which gender will use them (e.g., maternity leave). Don’t be surprised to find they need flex time to compete in some extreme sports activity or to travel. Expanding their experience, education, and mentoring are important to this generation. This young workforce will job-hop when they see no other choice.
They have a reputation for experiencing boredom and frustration with slow-paced environments, traditional hierarchies, and slightly outdated technology. Telecommuting programs are in great demand, allowing Gen Y to work remotely. They are also likely to be boomerang employees. Those who leave and come back will return knowing the company and culture and bring a new perspective and institutional knowledge, which will be an asset.
Trying to keep up with their demands could send any company into a frenzy, but remember workplace diversity is not just about culture: It’s about the way people think. Expect to get professional consultation to transform your organization and coaching for your managers.
This generation is very different from any other generation the workplace has seen. Unlike Boomers who lived for their careers, today’s young workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their families and personal life. They place a high value on self fulfillment.
As Bruce Tulgan, author of Managing Generation Y, says, “If you thought you saw a clash when Generation X came into the workplace, that was the fake punch. The haymaker is coming now.”