Generation Y In The Workplace


Generation Y are the 18-28 year olds who’ve grown up with new technology, a booming economy, high levels of debt, and increased university education. Many of them will have degrees, all of them will be on Facebook and most of them will know how to use a computer better than anyone else in your office. They’ve emerged into the world of work capable and with a lot of drive, although a lot of them won’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They struggle with independence, experience difficulty getting onto the housing ladder and complain that most of their money goes on living costs like rent and utility bills. Brand conscious however, they know what they want and they go out and get it, be it the latest iPod or some jeans from Diesel.

How do you engage with this generation? They think fast, they’re fickle but they have the skills your company needs to bring it into the 21st century. Attracting them may be easier than you think – in this degree-saturated market a lot of generation Y struggle to find their first job. They find it increasingly difficult to compete against each other, especially if they don’t have a set career path in mind. Gone are the days when you studied law and became a lawyer – you now study media or business and do “something” afterwards. If you’re offering entry-level jobs to graduates or even better, fast-track graduate schemes, you’ll be inundated with applications.

Keeping generation Y in their jobs is another matter entirely. They soon realise that work experience is all-important, and a year with your company may give them the advantage they need to get a job somewhere else. If your office is dull, if you don’t utilise the latest technology, if you don’t offer any perks, they will find something better elsewhere. Imagine an employee who uses a new computer at home with all the latest software, and then they come to work and have to use a slow, clunky system because you haven’t invested in technology? What if they suggest an upgrade but you can’t justify the expenditure? There’s no better way to frustrate the younger generation than to not give them the tools they know how to use.

Generation Y also need the right salary to keep them in a role. They might be willing to take an entry-level salary when they first join your company – after all, they need a job – but what happens after a year when they only get your usual small increase, just like all your other employees? Generation Y find it hard to get their own house or flat because rent and mortgages are so expensive, but having been to university they crave independence. Graduates expect graduate salaries too – they’ve got all that student debt to pay back after all. If your salaries aren’t in line with expectations, younger employees will eventually start to look elsewhere.

With the loss of decent pension schemes and the rise in redundancies, a job is no longer for life. Generation Y don’t expect to stay in one company for their career – they see a career as something they forge at different places. If you can engage young employees you can utilise their skills, so listen, reward and reap the benefits.

Article Author: Sylvia Kittens

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Leadership Training: Tips for Leading Gen Y


The Gen Y has made their mark! This new type of employee has been the cause of many management and leadership training challenges and few have truly understood what this generation needs and the thinking that goes behind what is seemingly is an unreasonable and unmanageable mindset.

From a leadership training perspective is imperative that leaders of different generations take the time to get inside the heads of their Gen Y employees and to get an understanding of what makes them tick.

Baby Boomers and Gen X leaders are cut from a different cloth. They are accustomed to principles such as proving yourself, climbing the corporate ladder, loyalty to their organisation, appreciation of opportunity and doing what it takes to get further in their own career paths.

These leaders believe they have earned the right to be at their current level of leadership and have a low sense of entitlement. They have got to their positions through sheer hard work, commitment and perseverance.

Now enter a generation who believe quite the opposite. A true test for leadership training professionals.

These leaders are being called to look beyond their own belief system into the realm of new and different ways of thinking.

Gen Y’s however are not trying to be difficult. They have been brought up in a world that is fast moving. They have their finger on the pulse of changing technology and the internet gives them the information they require in a split second. They can access people around the world and send and receive vast amounts of data in any area of their choice.

This pace defines their lives. Anything slow is boring and anything uninspiring is not worth spending time on. Diversity is king and challenge is a “must have”. If it takes too long, dump it!

Can a leadership training process make any meaningful difference to engage employees that think and behave in this way?

The answer is most certainly ‘Yes’, however without the following key actions it may prove ineffective.

Here are 7 Leadership training suggestions that have proved to be successful:

1. Ensure that your Gen Y employees are involved in decision making.

 As the leadership training guru Ken Blanchard claims, “People support and defend what they help create and decide.”

2. Know their needs and expectations of:
– you as their leader
– their team
– their role
– their career aspirations.

3. Give them ownership and autonomy

Gen Y employees want to feel a true sense of accomplishment. For this reason they do not feel a sense of loyalty to the organisation but rather to their jobs. Give them the opportunity to flourish in the path they would prefer to adopt.

4. Praise and acknowledge

They thrive on recognition and reward for a job well done. Many need this to feel alive and worthwhile.

5. Set up “buddy systems” and small teams

Gen Y’s love to work collaboratively. Get them working together, talking and sharing.

6. Encourage creativity and innovation

Set up brainstorming groups for problem solving and invite suggestions and ideas for new and different approaches. Allow them freedom of expression.

7. Never be prescriptive

Gen Y detests being told what to do and how to do it. Rather be suggestive and avoid using any power style of management or leadership.

The case for leadership training is strong. There certainly is no one right approach and with time we will get to further understand and appreciate this wonderful and challenging generation.

Article Author:  Meiron Lees

Meiron Lees is the director of InnerCents, the company is a leading corporate coaching and training company specializing in
executive coaching, leadership training, leadership management training and sales negotiation training.

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Managing Generation Y In The Workplace


Managing Generation Y Staff

Weekend papers regularly feature stories about “Generation Y” – the group of people born between about 1977 and 1999. Once a group attains a label, it follows that writers compile the quirkiest features of that group and turn it into literary entertainment.

However, being a business manager you have probably seen some of these people applying for jobs and perhaps you have even employed some and noticed that they are somehow “different” to your regular workers.

So, it will help employers if they can have an understanding of the characteristics of Gen Y.

Gen Y are commonly described as:

– Very confident of themselves

– Impatient

– Quick to learn

– Positive about the future, and

– Spending significant amounts of time socialising using computers and mobile phones (and you thought they were wasting time!).

What if you are recruiting Gen Y people?

Unlike their parents, Gen Y don’t look in the newspaper waiting for job vacancies to appear each Saturday. No, they actively use search engines on the internet to spot advertisements and have them automatically sent by RSS feed to their mobile phones. Gen Y can literally send in their CV one minute after the job ad has been posted.

As an employer, you should be using the internet as your primary method of advertising vacancies. Having said that, it can be smart to use a two-pronged approach.

First, place a small newspaper ad which shows your company name (brand), the job title, a reference to the more comprehensive internet ad and just enough words to excite Mum and Dad into telling their son or daughter.

Second, your internet ad (or website) should contain details to excite the potential Gen Y applicant:

– Use fresh and bright colour so that your vacancy looks different from the bland text-only ads

– Show photos or a video of your existing employees smiling at work [an informal but free method of recognising your best employees!]

– Talk about growth and exciting future developments because Gen Ys want to see that your business is not stagnant

– Mention technology where appropriate, and

– You still need a basic description of what the work entails, remembering, however, Gen Y will be wanting to see if your workplace looks like an interesting and fun place to be. As an example, do school kids join fast food outlets because they want to cook 1000 burger patties in a shift? No! They join because they want to be part of a fun-loving team of young people.

What if your business already has Gen Ys?

With Gen Y, be aware that their loyalty to anything is often fragile. If they don’t like your workplace, they will leave and then start looking for other work (although we’ll wait and see what impact the global financial downturn has upon this characteristic). In contrast, the older generations would hang on in a lousy job until they had secured another job. To a large extent, you need to entertain the Gen Ys, and there is a way to do this which will tap into their impatience and their need for fast-paced learning.

Consider setting up a Learning Log which is a plan of all the topics needed to be mastered before a person can be considered for the next position. Although the topics might be broad, the individual sub-topics will be small and very quick to learn. Training policies such as found on help plan for such learning.

An Example: A Supermarket Business

Level 1 Check-Out Operation
1. Opening the register
2. Greeting the customer
3. Operating the conveyor, scanning and packing bags
4. Transactions – Cash, Credit cards, EFT, Cheque
5. Failed scans and Sale items
6. Shutdown and Balancing the till

Level 2 Front End Supervision
1. All aspects of Check-Out Operation, plus
2. Accessing the safe
3. Handling returns
4. Responsible sale of cigarettes
5. Dealing with abusive customers
6. Confronting suspected shoplifters
7. Emergency evacuation drill coordination
8. Rostering of staff.

In the past, a business might train all of these things in a single four hour session of mostly theory. However, with Gen Y you would use a staged approach, with separate lessons over a period of time. Each mini-lesson would have a small amount of theory, then a walk-through of the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure and, finally, an appropriate number of hours doing the activity under the watchful eye of your most experienced supervisor.

Short, sharp lessons building up towards the end point makes for a program which engages the Gen Y employee.

The Bottom Line: Rather than shaking your head in frustration at Gen Ys, your challenge is to tap into their many strengths so that your business can ride the fast wave into the future.

For more information, visit

Author: Ben Geoghegan

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