5 ways to get more out of generation y employees

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5 ways to get more out of Generation Y employees

November 21, 2013 Blogs No Commentshttp://www.growthengineering.co.uk/how-to-manage-gen-y/

You are probably familiar with the term Generation X it signifies the people born between the early 1960s and 1980s but you may not yet have heard much about the next group of workers: Generation Y. There has recently been a huge hubbub around Gen Y; according to some articles and opinion pieces, Gen-Yers are lazy, demanding, immature and narcissistic. But could it be that they are simply not being managed correctly?

Gen-Yers also known as the Millennials are those born roughly between the early 1980s and 2000, and are coming through into the workplace as the most technologically-savvy employees ever. Many spent their formative years playing on computers, gaming platforms and mobile phones, using the internet to study and learn, and many spent as much if not more time communicating with friends using technology than in person.

So has this affected them? Are Gen-Yers as lazy as some people are claiming? Do they lack communication skills? Do they struggle to focus, have an exaggerated sense of entitlement, and are they narcissistic and impossible to manage?

Of course not! Employers, managers and team leaders just need to use different managerial tactics to get the most out of Gen-Yers. They are growing up in a world quite different to that of their parents and the generations before them, and so want and expect different things. Here are five ways to guarantee Gen Y are just as effective, dedicated and principled as Gen-Xers and the Baby Boomers before them.

1) Challenge Gen-YIn order to feel fulfilled and satisfied, Gen-Yers like to feel that they have made an impact and that their work is meaningful. Set Gen Y challenges that are critical to the success of the company, and make sure they know that you believe in their ability. They need to feel that their actions are important and vital to the company; that they have made a difference, and have done something that helps the organisation to thrive.

2) Give them recognition and feedbackGen Y need to know they are valued, so make sure you thank them, whether its verbally, through monetary recompense or a company-wide celebration of success. But be specific in your praises; empty words wont be motivational. Gen Y employees like recognition and acknowledgement after all, for the past few years they have been getting Likes on Facebook, Retweets on Twitter and, even before that, have gained instant badges, points and achievements on computer games for their efforts. Is it much of an extrapolation to say they find the same kind of interaction rewarding in a work environment, too?

3) Give them freedomAs said, Gen-Yers like a challenge, so set one. But dont look over their shoulder or demand they work a strict 9-5 to accomplish it. Gen Y are the first always-on workforce. Theyve grown up in a time when nothing ever stops not TV, nor communication, studying or work. Working mostly to the beat of their own drums, many Gen-Yers are of the opinion that so long as the job gets done, does it really matter when they work on it? A changeable working environment with flexible hours is important to the Gen Y worker. They may be happy enough to work during the morning, then stop at lunch for a few hours, then continue in the late afternoon and work into the evening. Having spent years working to their own timeframes studying late in the evening, etc getting the most out of Gen Y employees may involve letting them put in their 8 hours in whatever format they prefer.

4) Help them growGen Y employees are well known for job-hopping, and have been said to lack loyalty. But is this any wonder, when they are lumped into the same work environment that their older counterparts the Gen X and Baby Boomers found appealing? A way to counter this high rate of attrition is to encourage the Gen Ys to continue growing; to afford them the opportunity to learn new things, develop new skills and keep themselves fresh. Think of your role not as managing the Gen Y employee, but as being their mentor. Show them the way and give them the tools they need to grow. Ask them what they want to achieve and help them on their way. Theyll soon become unstoppable!

5) Strike the right balance between work and enjoymentGen-Yers dont necessarily see their job as distinct from their personal life. Because of the always on culture, they may be answering their work emails at the dinner table, or catching up on their favourite TV show during their lunch hour. Weve spoken in previous articles (see Why having fun at work should be part of your company culture and 5 quick and easy tips to improve your company culture) about how important it is for a work culture to incorporate elements of fun, and it should be reiterated here, too: Gen-Yers work well when they can work hard and play hard too. What does this mean in practice? Well, it means office-wide non-working activities, like drinks and quizzes, allowing employees to work flexibly, if the job role allows, to give them benefits to help them work better say, ergonomic chairs, discounted gym membership and encouraging company-wide recycling, for instance. If they care about recycling at home, they should be able to do the same at work, since it is something they care about.

What do you think? Are you noticing an impact of Generation Y in your work environment? Share this with your friends and Gen Y colleagues and get a discussion going!

Want to learn more about how to keep employees happy? Download our free Guide to Engagement below.