Every generation of workers has traits which set them apart from the previous wave of employees. Members of Generation Y—those born between 1980 and the early 2000’s—are no different.
As more “Gen Y’ers” begin to enter the workforce, as interns and employees, it is wise for human resources experts to understand what makes them tick. To be successful in recruitment and hiring new talent, it is essential for management to know the motivations of this new class of people, and how to make it work to their advantage.
Savvy employers are beginning to understand the unique characteristics of Generation Y, and how they can contribute to an organization—for the short term, as in internships, and as long-term employees.
Of course, it is always problematic to generalize any group, by one or any other characteristic. However, there are some trends—when understood well—can be used to create a strategy that will utilize the best and brightest of this latest generation coming of age. Apply these traits, and you stand a better chance of business success.
Benefits of integrating members of Gen Y into the workplace:
Members of Gen Y are the first generation exposed to computers from a young age; they are often the first to adopt new technologies. They are not only able to find, understand and apply the latest tools and programs, but they are also willing demonstrate these technologies to others.
- Willingness Towards Teamwork.
The previous generation of workers—Generation X, born between 1960 and the first years of the 1980’s—has been commonly referred to as the “Me” generation. These post-baby boomers are more independent, and often self-regarding.
The social changes of a post-September 11, 2001 world shaped young people to become more patriotic and socially aware. Generation Y has become known for leaning towards peer-to-peer relationships and collaborative projects. This turns into a higher level of group thought, and a sense of increased collaboration, often translating to a more innovative workplace. It is ideal for business.
More studies show that Generation Y appears to be motivated by things other than money. In a recent Monster.com survey of employers, over one-third (39 percent) say “work/life balance and flexibility” is the primary motivating factor for Gen Y’ers. Only 17 percent stated “compensation” as the principal incentive.
Taking in account that 40 percent of recent college graduates still live at home, Gen Y becomes a group of workers that can provide employers a much higher return on investment.
Generation Y is all about the latest trends—social, business and entertainment. Encourage this connection and your organization will be rewarded with increased relevance to a growing segment of consumers. Even older customers—in the right situation—will appreciate efforts to stay on top of things.
- The Need for Approval.
One of the biggest social critiques of the past decade can be leveled on the increased emphasis on participation, and less on competition. Everyone gets a reward “just for participating.”
Yes, most people may see this as a negative. However, with the right emphasis, this can be extremely motivating—the need for recognition and support often leads to dynamic implementation and accomplishment. Gen Y’ers will work hard to seek approval, in exchange for positive feedback and validation on the part of the employer.
In the Gen Y worldview, social media encourages expression, which earlier generations may be reluctant to express. However, the practical result is a collection of potential employees who are not afraid to express their ideas. In a corporate setting, this mindset translates into real traits such as bold brainstorming, searching for innovative solutions and fresh perspectives, again another perk for business.
- Alert to the Competition.
The Great Recession of 2007 had made Gen Y’ers more aware of competition—in both employment and the marketplace. Older workers are accustomed to being in control of their own careers, where Gen Y understands their good fortune in securing employment. They know that things change and that they can be replaced. This creates incentive to make the best impression, and stay employed.
- The Bottom Line for Employers.
It is easy to dismiss a younger generation—writing them off as not serious or unwilling to put forth the effort. Don’t fall into that trap! Understanding motivation is the greatest trait of any successful manager, and this especially applies to Gen Y employees. Put them in the right context, develop a strategy that incorporates the proper incentives, and Gen Y’ers will become a strong and vital part of the workforce.