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Managing Generation Y

Updated on September 26, 2014

Generation Change

Every age groups faces different financial, environmental and global circumstances that help to define who they are. Gen Y were born into an age of digital technology, generally smaller families and a period of prosperity. They feel that life is to be experienced, love travel and want flexibility in exchange for commitment.

Managers and employers need to focus on the strengths that Gen Y can bring to their business accept that they have a “want it now” attitude, but at the same time Gen Y thrive on challenge, teamwork participation and their own sense of loyalty.

Unlike Gen X, they are likely to have 5 different careers and 29 different employers (on average) and so don’t expect them to hang around if the job is not providing them what they are looking for.

Managing Generation Y

Despite the fact that members of Gen Y have been in the workforce for years, I still hear managers and employers that are either Gen X or Baby Boomers complain that they don’t understand them and don’t know how to manage them effectively.

So I thought that I would share a few insights that may make working with Gen Y a little bit easier.

So what are the characteristics of Gen Y that are different to everyone that has come before that makes them challenging? Firstly Gen Y are a fun, vibrant and switched on generation that want to be challenged. They are looking for a career and jobs that fit into their lifestyle. This may sound idealistic, but they are also very loyal employees if they feel that their employer is loyal to them.

It is important to remember that Gen Y has grown up in an era with low unemployment and a skills shortage, as well as witnessing major corporate failings such as Enron and Arthur Andersons, and so they realise that a job is not for life and employers may not be loyal to their staff. As a result they are more outspoken about their rights in the workplace.

They are also less likely to differentiate between work life and private life, having more of a view that they are having a life that contains both of these things, so hours of work and leisure time can become more blurred.

Attracting and Recruiting Gen Y

Gen Y are, more than any other generation, going to look out for themselves. They understand the days of the job for life are gone and so employers need to recognise that if the job is working for them they will stay, if it isn’t they will go.

It is a good idea to focus on the 5 C’s when working with this generation.

Conditions – the pay and the hours

Continuous Learning- this is seen as important and can be a good negotiating point.

Challenge – if the job is dull and without any challenges then holding on to Gen Y is going to be harder.

Culture – this is very important. A very heavily bureaucratic or rigid culture will lead to a much higher turnover.

Charisma - this generation more than any other expects great leadership and will stay to work for a great mentor, but be more willing to leave if there is a leadership vacuum.

Are you getting the most out of your Gen Y staff?

See results

Managing Strategies

It is important to remember that this generation is smart, ambitious and very in tune with their own ambitions. Keeping good communication is important and so is 360 degree feedback.

Provide Gen Y staff with thorough job descriptions and KPI’s and then let them run with their job without a lot if interference and micro-managing and you are far more likely to see great results. Answer their questions properly and make certain that the information you are giving them is accurate and relevant. Let them be involved with decision making and ensure that a growing Gen Y in your company is part of the company’s long term strategy.

And remember to be flexible. The needs of one generation are not the same as another.

Gen Y is a dynamic exciting group of young adults that have an enormous amount top offer to any employer and we can learn a great deal from them, just as they are learning from us.


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