Gen Y is loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 1994. The media is filled with headlines and stories reporting the ‘horror’ of Generation Y and the detrimental impact of their entry into the work place.

So how different are they really?  Christine Hassler a Gen Y career expert and consultant to American Express on Millennials, states “When they get to the workplace, they have a sense of entitlement, a need for validation, difficulty in really discerning what to do because their whole lives were managed. They have challenges with making decisions and have expectations of work-life balance. They want their opinion to matter and [want to work] for a company that is really making a difference.”

This can be incongruent with both Baby Boomers and Gen X’s who have worked through their careers gaining respect, working for managers who don’t always value the importance of feedback and in an environment where you live and die by your decisions.  With this in mind these older generations have gained respect for this youngest cohort of workers for their unbridled zeal, their focus on work and life balance and their ability to take the initiative and ask for feedback.

Here is Happening People’s Top 5 for bridging the gap with Gen Y’s………

1. Technology
Gen Y’s are absorbed in a world made possible by technology. They cut their teeth on computer keyboards.  To them, the internet is as easy as breathing. They will not only utilise ALL the technology thrown at them they will have their own.

Use their talents to help manage and teach others in this area.

2. Flexibility

Having grown up in a world where flexibility is paramount to survival, Gen Y’s value this in the workplace too.  Offering flexible work practices is not a thing of the future it is for now! Be willing to discuss options with them and you might just improve retention across all generations.

3. Face-to-Face time

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, smart phones, tablets, instant messaging and texting!  Gen Y’s are use to a multiplicity of communication modes, they live in a state of digital hyperactivity though research shows in a workplace setting they prefer face-to-face time with their managers and peers.  Clearly express which communication you would like face-to-face and for which communication technology is appropriate.

4. Know their Strengths

Gen Y’s are far better educated, more globally aware and technically savvy than any previous generation. They come to the workforce filled with fresh ideas and lots of passion.  Use their strengths to your businesses advantage.  Have them take a look at time consuming processes and ask them to suggest ways of streamlining them.  Gen Y’s have grown up with a social conscious, see what value they can add to your social brand.

5. Show Respect
Due to the bad wrap Gen Y’s have received in the press it’s not surprising they can complain of being poorly treated in the workplace.  Gen Y’s have grown up in an environment where their parents have asked their opinion on major family decisions. Try to embrace their need to be involved and their willingness to offer their opinion; it may just be the answer you are seeking.

If your Leaders need assistance in maximising your Gen Y workforce, contact Happening People on 1800 68 67 69.
We’ll discuss a program to suit your needs.



Filed under People Management

7 responses to “GEN Y – ARE THEY REALLY THAT BAD?

  1. Adam Wait

    As a Gen Y in a leadership position I have a team of mainly older staff. I believe that the dynamics of my team mean that we all pull together strengths of our generational traits. I have had comments that the leadership qualities I have bought to the team have led to increased flexibility and the use of technology in a way that has promoted innovation in the team. I do agree that moving into this role I am always seeking approval from my peers, and this has led to greater communication with my team. I also find though that it works both ways, I have learnt alot from my older team members life and business experience….. This value adds to my team and my learnings.

    Who said that mixing generations in the workplace can be a bad thing? I think it’s great (even if I am writing this on a smartphone)

    • Adam, absolutely agree with you. I think every new generation that starts in the workforce initially feels like a threat to the existing. ie “young whipper snapper” However, I think that when Gen Y entered the workforce they came around the same time as a new technology and not only did they have new ideas and a different attitude but also technology know how to go with it. I think in most cases things have settled down and as the older gens get to understand the technology they also embrace the younger “whipper snappers” yet the label is sometimes slower to remove.

      • I am a member of Generation Y and this ricatle is EXACTLY on target. Before reading ricatles and taking trainings about generational differences, I thought these needs and preferences were part of my unique make-up. I had no idea that these things I felt were uniquely me were, in fact, typical attributes, motivators, and desires of a 76-million person club! I will admit that many of these characteristics tend to be more biased toward those raised in the middle or upper-middle class.Someone suggested that the tough economic times means that we Y-ers need to shape up and essentially stop acting so spoiled. While there may be some truth to the fact that we are probably going to have to do more adjusting than we care to do, I think you are missing the entire point. The point is for you to understand how we function at our peak, what makes us tick, and what kind of environment brings about our greatest levels of productivity. Simply put, those things are different than for any other generation. And, you ought to know that so that your company benefits as much as it possible can.

    • Dude good post! I might actually even leistn to what you are saying. Overall your whole blog is great I am digging it. Peace!

  2. Julieann

    Each generation evolves from the one before it in different ways, including technological growth. In some ways, don’t we all want the above to a certain degree? Don’t we all want respect and to be treated fairly according to what we believe we are worth? I believe that Gen Y are just ‘better at it’ and more confident at verbalising their beliefs and needs (okay, not every single one, but the majority I have encountered). They tend to reflect the desire and need of all generations for more flexibility in the workplace and in identifying and working with everyone’s talent or strengths in the workplace. They are are able to learn new tasks quickly and are quite technically proficient.
    I have a team of predominantly Gen Y staff (5 out of 10) with 3 Gen X (myself being one) and 2 Baby Boomers thrown in for good measure. Having a mix works really well as each generation has something to share with other generations. I would say that Gen Y bring new behaviours and positive traits to the workforce that, if listened to, can be quite revolutionary. We do have to be very careful not to ‘dampen’ their enthusiasm when it comes to their willingness to offer opinions, suggestions and ideas. I have also certainly realised very quickly that I need to “Clearly express which communication you would like face-to-face and for which communication technology is appropriate” – there are still business expectations in the workplace to make it ‘fair’ for all and I cannot just assume that they know what is considered ‘appropriate’ (but this could be said of any generation to a certain degree).
    Oh! as a Gen X, I am writing this on my laptop…..(thought that might amuse you Adam…)

  3. Greg

    If only we could do something about the awful haircuts they have and the dreadful music they listen to! Kids today!!!

    • Aren’t all kids optimistic about the fuurte, that they have insight into the world’s problems that the current generation does not? Don’t think Gen Z is exclusive in thinking they can change the world.

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