Employing Generation Y

Gen Y is the generation that knows nothing about the era without mobile phones, laptops and desktops. Cheque books, fax machines, even radios, might as well be from the Jurassic era. This is a generation raised by doting parents who told them they were special. They played in competitions where there were no losers, everyone was a winner and everyone got a trophy. It is a generation that grew up on the internet. Many of them know how to launch a viable online business. After all Facebook began in a college dorm room.

This is the industry now taking over the work force and print industry employers have to know how to deal with them.

Here are some tips:

  • Make sure the work conditions are flexible: This is the generation where work and time away from work blend. There are talented Gen Y people who will put in 12 hour days for you. But they might spend two to three hours of that time on Facebook. Get used to it. Base the work model around outcomes rather than time spent at the desk. Create a model that allows things like telecommuting and remote working.
  • Give lots of feedback: Gen Y thrives on feedback and being told how they are developing and what areas need attention. It makes them feel valued and needed. But as a boss, you have to be prepared to accept feedback from them.
  • Provide lots of coaching: For Gen Y, accomplishments are stepping stones to career success and without that sense of momentum, they would feel they are just spinning the wheels. This is why more than any other generation, they feel that need to be developed and coached. They want to feel they are learning something to develop their careers. That means the company has to provide formal coaching and training sessions. Stretching their comfort zones is important.
  • Give them challenges: Gen Y employees welcome new challenges and a manageable degree of risk. Take advantage of their sense of entitlement by giving them ownership of particular projects. This is an adrenaline-driven generation that craves change and challenge. They are not ones to shrink from assignments outside their comfort zone. Indeed, many would see a tough assignment as a vote of confidence in their abilities.
  • Use teams: More than any other generation, Gen Y employees identify strongly with a team, often more strongly than they would identify with the company. The team is a source of social and professional support and gives them a base from which they can progress in their career. The manager has to enhance the team’s collective culture along with that feeling of cohesion and social integration.
  • Rethink incentives: For the boomers and Xers, incentives in the form of money gave them the opportunity to buy a new car or house. Gen Y is different. They’re more likely to use that money to take a year off and travel through Asia. It might be better to give them experiential incentives instead: a weekend for two in a plush hotel, a balloon ride, a trip to the Hunter Valley. All of this is really cool and makes the company a really fun place to work for.

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