Companies lately seem to be struggling with the generation gap. They are striving to communicate and understand the motivation (or lack thereof) of the various groups in the workforce. As the older baby boomers retire, the needs of the next generations are becoming more noticeable. They have different values, beliefs, perspectives and behaviors and we all need to work together to avoid misunderstandings. It is a requirement to comprehend why the different generations act and behave the way they do.
Today, we are going to discuss the Millennials or Generation Y. There is considerable debate over Millennial dates, but in Canada, 1983 is generally thought to be the starting birth-year for Generation Y, ending in 1999 or 2000, even as late as 2004.
For the purpose of this article, we will use the dates of 1981-1994, ages 19-32.
Known as everything from the Net generation, Generation Me, Generation We, Trophy Kids, the Boomerang Generation, the Go-Nowhere Generation, Generation Stuck and Generation Flux, they have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels; don’t know how to use a typewriter and grew up with technology that is totally frightening to the boomer generation. Usually the product of dual-income parents, divorces, daycare and one of the biggest economic booms in history, their ”Helicopter Parents” hover over them constantly and cater to every need to offer a sense of entitlement, extended education opportunities and constant reinforcement. The words “good job” are offered in both positive and negative situations.
Entrepreneurial, demanding and inquisitive, this group is loyal to peers, not the corporation (they have seen the results of that loyalty with their parents’ generation burning out, being laid-off and dealing with constant reorganization). They are socially aware, environmentally conscious and very concerned about the future. Confident, resilient and ambitious, they want quick action, fast achievements and to make a difference with meaningful life and work. Unlike the boomers before them, they are taught to speak up to get what they want.
How should organizations deal with this group?
Know their Expectations
• Flexible hours
• Positive reinforcement
• Team atmosphere
• Connection to colleagues at all times
• Constant approval
• Challenging work
• Continuous change
• More vacation time
• Rapid career growth
• Personalized experiences
Adjust your HR policies
1. Communication. From orientation, to performance reviews, to explanations of the reasons for everything, deep, specific, honest communication is essential. The more knowledge they have about the business performance of the company the more this group will be persuaded to buy into the strategic plans, culture and policies even if they do not always align with their needs or wishes. Update constantly with surveys to gauge job satisfaction and include social and technological usage policies in your manuals. Use pictures and technology to get the messages across.
2. Create a good fit. Hire individuals based on whether they fit with the values of the company and their capacity to succeed. Gen Y’s like to work in teams and work with their friends. Explain what is and what is not acceptable in your environment before they are hired.
3. Make it all about the people. Millennial really don’t care about the strategies and policies unless they have been part of the decision-making and are informed as to “why” things are done. Make the workplace fun with activities that appeal to this age group. Know what these employees listen to and watch on TV and the web. Adjust to their methods of communication such as texting and email.
The careers of the Millennials are no longer going in a straight line. There is no longer just one single career interest. They want to do lots of things over the course of their lives. So, for the amount of time you would like them to work in your organization, make it last by adhering to their needs and interests but also advising them on acceptable practices.