“Generation Y-sometimes called Millennials- are the fastest growing segment in America’s workforce. Almost 80 million strong, they already comprise the entire 18-32 demographic. Along with their ever-present cell phones and new definition of “business casual,” they bring tremendous potential to the workplace (just ask, they’ll tell you). However, Generation Y’s approach to employment can make them a challenge for managers and executives to attract, retain, motivate, and develop.” From the front jacket of Y-Size Your Business.
I have been working a lot the last few years with our interns at Zirous. I thought the book Y-Size Your Business, How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business would be a good idea. This book, from Jason Ryan Dorsey, is an eye opener for anyone working with this age group. Some of the things give you a better understanding of why the Generation Y employees act the way that they do.
Hiring Gen Y Makes Dollar and Sense
In the first chapter Dorsey lays out the case why we should hire Generation Y employees to our companies even with some of their quirks. We need to look at the “Gen Y ROI” as many other companies have and see what an opportunity these people are and they bring different things to work. Yes he points out sometimes they come into work late and have baggy pants, but he recommends leading his generation not cater to them.
A different approach to work
Generation Y comes to work with different expectations and approach to how they work and why they work. They have no expectation of lifetime employment, they expect to change jobs. It is actually thought as abnormal to for them to stay at one company.
One of the big complaints that Dorsey hears from employers about Gen Y is their feelings of entitlement. He details how many of the Baby Boomer parents tried to make it easy for many of his generation so this distorts their view of employment. This stems from many of the “helicopter moms” who swoop in and try to help out.
Technology has affected this generation profoundly. They have learned to communicate quite differently than older employees in the workforce. As they text more often than talk with their friends this makes their email communication seem brief and of course littered with texting misspellings.
Lifestyle is more important to Generation Y than their work. This is at odds with many of the Baby Boom generation where they felt their identity came from their work. Therefore Gen Y wants ample free time to pursue all their activities.
With the lengthening of life expectancy our workforce is now made up of members of four generations. This amplifies some of the issues that Dorsey discusses. This has never happened before in American history. So leaders of many companies need to understand this as they deal with many of the challenges they face. “When generations don’t work well together, operational costs go up and operation effectiveness goes down.” Leading through the generations is going to be a critical skill for all leaders.
Attracting Gen Y Employees
Of course an important part of recruiting Generation Y employees is having an engaging career website. They like to see videos and photos of actual employees and the workplace. Social media is also critical to reach this demographic. They expect this from the companies they consider. Adding an employee blog is helpful to show what an actual employee is doing. Having a phone number so potential applicants can send a text message and receive more information is helpful too.
There is a whole chapter on how to setup their first day. This may sound funny to some of us but Dorsey explains how the first day is when they decide if they are staying or will keep looking for another job. A big benefit to making the first day a success is that they will probably tell their friends about it and brag on social media. This helps build the kind of buzz every employer wants.
Motivating Gen Y’s
Leadership and motivation of employees can be challenging for many of us. As we discussed earlier Generation Y places a large importance on what they do outside of work. To motivate them at work understanding this fact can be helpful. Dorsey recommends we find ways to motivate Millennials with items that they are personally attached to. Many of the options he discusses are cheap, for instance many of the plaques and gift cards given out don’t motivate Generation Y. They would rather leave early on Friday.