The world of the generation Y member is fast paced and changing at speeds not yet seen before. Many generation Yers grew up with technology, are online and are connected 24 hours a day. They don’t want to miss out on anything and are consuming information constantly.
As a result, generation Y has evolved into ‘multichannellers’: They listen to their GPSes and their iPods, and talk on their cellphones via their hands-free kits all while driving their cars. They rely on technology to work more efficiently and prefer to communicate over social media and SMS rather than face to face.
This is a generation defined by contradictions. It is the most educated, culturally diverse, wealthy, optimistic and tech-savvy of all the generations so far, but many of them are also unemployed, disappointed and self-centred, with a tendency towards instant gratification and entitlement.
What are generation Yers like on the job?
Generation Y faces unique challenges in the workplace:
- The economic downturn has impacted the job market, making it unpredictable.
- Youth unemployment is increasing.
- Recent global research by the American Psychological Association found that this generation is stressed about unemployment, money, relationships and job stability.
- They are dealing with huge pressures due to the increasing demands of their work and personal lives.
This sector of the population also has more choice than their parents ever had. All these options are confusing and stressful. There’s immense stress around having to live with the consequences of their decisions.
But in the workplace, generation Y is very confident – sometimes overly so. They like to be challenged, want to have their ideas and opinions heard, and won’t hesitate to question authority.
Gen Yers also require constant and almost immediate feedback about their performance
This need for instant feedback can be understood when you consider generation Y in the context of social media and mobile communication. They have learned to expect:
- A fast response to their SMSes,
- Something they posted on Facebook being ‘liked’, and
- to be able to stay abreast of news on Twitter almost as it happens.
Many of this generation have a ‘work-to-live’ rather than a ‘live-to-work’ attitude
They don’t feel the need to pay their dues in their careers like their parents did. If they are bored or offered more money, they will make the move without hesitation. Researchers have found that generation Y sees their jobs as temporary: 55% regard their jobs as merely career stepping stones. This has resulted in generation Y developing a reputation of job-hopping, lacking company loyalty and constantly chasing the next big salary package.
Generation Y learns from the mistakes their parents made
Generation Y’s parents were more enlightened about parenting and the psychological impact of poor or absent parenting. However, because of their intense involvement in their children’s lives, they have been dubbed “helicopter parents” because they are always hovering, fixing their children’s mistakes and over-parenting them.
These parents wanted childhood to be a positive experience and once their children went to school, they tended to not to emphasise coming first in class, at sports, etc. Instead, they stressed that “making an effort was good enough”.
How to attract and manage generation Y employees
Generation Y has many qualities that are valuable in the workplace: their optimism, open-mindedness, confidence, energy and fearless approach to technology can have a positive impact on motivating and inspiring colleagues.
They work hard if their work is relevant to them or if they have to learn about something they know nothing about. They just need a particular approach to encourage job satisfaction and company loyalty.
4 tips on how to attract, manage and retain generation Y
1. Recognise good performance and offer constructive criticism
Praise them for a job well done or let them know how they can improve their skills. Generation Y needs to be shown the path to success, i.e. what they need to do to get promoted, how they can acquire the necessary skills, etc. Because they were indulged by their parents they need this kind of guidance from their managers and would benefit from mentoring and coaching.
2. Make your workplace flexible
Generation Yers are increasingly more demanding about workplace flexibility when it comes to work hours, the choice of technology and access to social media networks during the work day.
3. Encourage work-life balance
Generation Y has the desire to make a strong contribution to their company while still having a work/life balance. Many generation Yers are not willing to shape their lives around work demands. They want a full life that includes ample time for friends, family and outside interests. As an employer, you need to recognise that these are well-rounded individuals who are not prepared to sacrifice their private life for work as many of their parents did. Generation Y will thrive in a work environment that supports their personal development, as well as their skills development.
4. Generation Y wants career fulfilment
Generation Y feels that a job they are not passionate about is not worth their time. They don’t want to be just a number in the company; they want to make a difference and be recognised. You, as an employer, need to convince Generation Y that they will be allowed to express their creativity.
* Generation Y dates differ from country to country.
This article is courtesy of HR Pulse