Generation Y, aka the Millennials or the Echo Boomers, are the children of the nation’s baby boomers or older members of Generation X. Born in the years 1977 to 1994, they are well educated, hardworking, technologically savvy and tend to be somewhat narcissistic.
By the year 2012, Gen Y will be the 18-34 age group and will comprise a major portion of the nation’s workforce.
In hiring or working with members of Gen Y, keep these points in mind:
• Gen Y places high value on work/life balance. They want flexible hours or the option of telecommuting. They want shorter workdays or weeks, but they won’t waste any of the time they spend on the job. They’re excellent multitaskers who expect efficiency. They won’t tolerate long, pointless meetings or anything else that strikes them as a waste of time. When they work, they work hard, and when they get away, they are gone.
• Gen Y expects a lot from employers. They respect authority and experience, but won’t take “Because I said so” as a reason for doing anything. They want fair and direct communication. They expect full disclosure—hide anything or operate unethically in any way and you will lose them. They also desire constant input on their job performance. Forget the annual review—more frequent reviews will be seen as more helpful. Gen Y understands money and expects a good retirement plan, starting from day one.
• Gen Y wants to serve. Give them opportunities to volunteer, to donate, to help others.
• Gen Y is high-tech. These people have used computers since they were in day care. They prefer email and phone calls over in-person meetings. They know all about “second life” (living their “second life” via Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube). Provide them with the latest and most relevant technology and they will work wonders with it for your company.
• Gen Y communicates best with itself. The best person to train a new Gen Y employee is a member of Gen Y. The best go-to person for Gen Y employees is another Millennial like themselves.
• Gen Y is narcissistic. These young people tend to think that everything is about them. They may have a certain sense of entitlement, expecting high pay and high respect even as new hires. While some of these expectations need to be talked down, the truth is these workers come with college degrees and heavy school-loan burdens that realistically do need to be paid off. High pay is more than a selfish desire for members of Gen Y.
Pay them fairly, communicate with them clearly and, if you can, get used to their flip-flops. There is unlimited creativity and energy to be harnessed in the thundering horde known as Generation Y, now heading toward your office.
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