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Managing Generation Y

November 30, 2012

As we get close to beginning a new year, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the trends of the workforce in the future.

One of the most common terms I continue to hear is “Millenials.” They’re beginning to move up in the ranks of leadership, and while many of you probably have experience working with this group, do you really know who they are?

I did some research to find out.

Who Are They?

Millennials (or Generation Y) are the 76 million people who were born between 1980 and 2000. Typically, they have a reputation for ambition and efficiency and enjoy working on teams. They were raised in a period of economic prosperity by Baby Boomer and Gen X parents who raised them in a less authoritarian style than they themselves had been raised. This generation of parents tried to give their children the very best (i.e., vacations, education, new forms of technology) and encouraged them to seek employment in occupations that were meaningful on a personal level.

While it’s impossible apply these characteristics to every Generation Y’er, recent studies and trends have shown that in general this new group of young professionals has a very different mindset and approach than their predecessors.

This group is primed to bring the biggest shift in managerial styles and workplace culture that has been seen in a long time.

Work to Live vs. Live to Work

This generation would rather work remotely. They would prefer to get their work done at their favorite coffee shop and get on with their personal lives. Sitting in an office 40+ hours a week does not appeal to them. They want to be judged based on their performance per project rather than by the hours they log in the office. In this respect, Generation Y works to live.

They would also like to advance quickly and need to feel they have an opportunity for growth. If they are unhappy in a position or don’t feel there is room for professional development, they’re more likely to seek other employment options. Building tenure at an organization is not a top priority for this group.

In contrast, prior generations have more of a “live to work” attitude. They are fine with logging a 60-hour work week and they enjoy face-to-face interaction with their colleagues. They are more likely to stay in one position for a long period of time and believe in the concept of “paying your dues.” They are more comfortable working their way up the ladder and biding their time to achieving success.

Embracing New Ideas (From Anywhere!)

While some employers and managers might see the attitudes of this younger generation in a negative light, I believe this group could bring many positive changes to the way we do business.

Compared to other generations, one of the greatest attributes I see about this group is their comfort level in not only using technology, but embracing new technology. They know how to use the latest and greatest and they’re not afraid to flow with the changes. This is a huge plus for employers, since technology continues to become deeply embedded into how we all work and is a huge part of how we do business. As I mentioned in my blog, being “technology literate” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Millenials bring a wealth of knowledge to the table that employers can benefit from immensely.

Also, members of Generation Y prefer telecommuting – and there are benefits for their employer. A study by Cisco found that approximately 69% of employees cited higher productivity, 75% said the timeliness of their work improved, 80% experienced a better quality of life and 91% said telecommunicating has improved their overall satisfaction with their jobs. To me, this means that by adapting to the preferred work method of Millenials, employers could realize positive results across the board.

What differences are you finding with Gen Y employees?

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