Three Ways to Motivate Gen Y

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The pulse of business in America is throbbing. People are concerned about the financial crisis, economy and upcoming elections. Despite this uncertainty, organizational attrition rates are high, up to 20% for some large firms. So what can leaders do to not only retain Gen Y employees, but get the most out of them during these lean times?

Yahoo! HotJobs and Robert Half International’s special report, What Millennial Workers Want: How to Attract and Retain Gen Y Employees outlines the business imperative for developing Gen Y to become future leaders. The first place to look is your workplace environment, especially their colleagues, their life-work balance and their direct supervisor.

Let’s start with their colleagues. The surprising thing about this wired generation is that two-thirds of Gen Y favor in-person conversations with their co-workers over other types of communication. So today’s businesses need to create lots of “face time” opportuntities that allow Gen Y’s to connect with each other. This doesn’t have to involve costly meals or cafeterias. You could create open seating areas for team project meetings, comfortable lunch rooms and/or fun break rooms or water cooler areas.

Work-life balance is another huge priority for Gen Y. They are constantly looking for ways to balance their personal and professional lives. As a manager, lend them your ear and support. Let them know that you understand they have a life outside the office and guide them to tools and resources that will help them find their own balance.

What about their boss? How does a direct supervisor directly impact the job satisfaction and retention of Gen Y? Their dream boss has good management and communcation skills, is flexible and open-minded, and respects his/her employees. Be warned: Millennials are used to constant and direct supervision from parents, teachers and sport coaches; they expect the same from their bosses, thinking nothing of communicating with their boss several times a DAY!

Gen Y bosses must focus on their own skill development, in order to coach their Gen Y employees to greater success. Your Gen Y employees may not stay with you forever, but they will stay longer if you give them the skills and development they need to get to the next level of success. According to one Gen Y in the report, “…the ideal manager has clear expectations and takes time to meet with me…must be able to help me grow and guide me in my professional development, and be a mentor.” Her nightmare boss is ” a micromanager who is not concerned with my professional development…”. Although it may take more time up front, it’s clear that Gen Y bosses must be strong managers with excellent coaching and mentoring skills. Not there yet? Get some resources to help you now! You can download the Yahoo! HotJobs and Robert Half International’s special report for free here. I also highly recommend Millennials Incorporated by Lisa Orrell, a quick read with plenty of tips and advice. Or feel free to ask me about my workshops, talks and latest Gen Y research.

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