One of the hardest things a manager/owner has to deal with these days has to do with the generations that represent our workforce. There are three generations working right now. Each generation has different expectations, work habits and technology demands. They work together differently and expect different things from their co-workers.
So let’s start with some facts. Generation Y would be people born in 1980 or later and are just starting to enter the workforce. Sometimes referred to as “Echo Boomers”, Gen Y employees had constant access to communications, media and digital technology. Some employers refer to this generation as the “lazy generation” but they have had increasing difficult economic times to deal with and are usually underemployed. There are about 80 million people in this generation and one statistic predicted that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be from this age group. Another article claimed that this will be the most educated generation in history. So how do we best integrate them to our companies and vice versa? This is one question that continues to shadow the doors of many managers.
It is time to embrace what this new generation can bring to the workforce. Gen Y are people aged 18 to 33 and they are changing the way we work dramatically. This is a generation that is not afraid of change. They were born during the first stages of computer technology development and have used them daily. Most companies have been resistant to change and slow to move with the technology that is available. Gen Y employees are helping (or forcing) move those companies forward and embrace the technology.
The Gen Y employees are not necessarily hard to work with; you just need to understand what they want. They want their mobile technology, an open and collaborative work place that mimics their educational experience, flexible job opportunities, advancement and the ability to go to the top with their ideas. This is a generation that likes to know that they are heard and understood, that they are valuable to the company and have opportunities to learn. They want quick and accurate feedback now, not in a year at the annual performance review. They like their freedom and given the opportunity will prove that they can do the job. You need to find out how to motivate these employees and work with that. Each employee is motivated differently, but understanding the difference between the generations will also be helpful.
Given when this generation was raised, how they learned in school and what they have seen happen with their parent’s careers, it is no surprise that they want and expect more. What we can learn from them can be invaluable to our businesses. Learn to live with the quick changing world and allow these employees to help guide you!
Have you hired a Gen Y employee lately? What have your experiences been?