With fifty percent of the world population under 30 years old, we have no choice but to learn about the people born after the early 1980s, or Gen Y. Gen Y has unique characteristics that make this group different than previous generations in the workplace.
Technology – For starters Gen Y is the first generation to have technology incorporated into their lives from early childhood. Since this exposure has been a prominent and powerful factor in their upbringing, this generation can usually pick up new technology quickly. From iPads to social media, Gen Y comes to work expecting to have the aid of technology to perform their job. This group prefers to communicate via text messages or emails rather than face-to-face interactions.
Teams – Gen Y is attracted to working in teams and getting ideas from others. The best way to gain trust from your Gen Y workers is to ask for their input and let them get involved in projects. A sense of purpose and meaningful work hold a lot of weight for this generation. During the recruitment process, take the time to make sure the values of the applicants you hire are aligned with values of your company.
Job Hopping – Gen Y does not enter their first job thinking they will stay at that organization the rest of their life. According to Generation Y: The New Kind of Workforce, Gen Y employees only tend to spend 2 years at their first job. Large corporations are not attracting Gen Y workers due to the office structure with set hours and days. As a small business owner you can overcome this problem by giving your Gen Y workers the flexibility to control their schedule.
Work-Life Balance – Pulling long hours and working your life away does not appeal to Gen Y. This group wants to have a work-life balance, and any job unwilling to accommodate this philosophy will quickly lose the interest of a Gen Y worker. With the constant use of technology and social media sites, Gen Y people have become very good at multi-tasking. Sitting at a desk and doing the same work every day is boring for these workers; they seek an adventure at work!
So how do you motivate these workers? Take the time to explain to your Gen Y team members the importance of their work and how they contribute to the overall organizational success. Although Gen Y wants the flexible work schedule, they are also always close to their technological devices and respond quickly. Writing and face-to-face interactions are not strengths of this generation, but that does not mean that you can’t mold them. Give your Gen Y workers the resources they need to improve their skills and their loyalty towards your company will increase. Procrastination is also an inherent trait with this group, so give them lots of small deadlines for large projects. Finally, invest in your Gen Y workers. After all, this generation will be in the workforce for a long time…or at least until the next strange unknown generation emerges.