Today’s article is written by a Gen Y colleague. I thought it was time you heard about Gen Y straight from the horse’s mouth! Here’s what Jon has to say to Boomer employers and managers:
A solid understanding of the Gen Y culture can help a potential employer hire and retain Gen Y employees. Yet connecting with Gen Y can be a difficult prospect for Boomers. Our assertive nature, coupled with being accustomed to getting what we want, separates us from previous generations.
Growing up, Gen Y repeatedly heard that we had the ability to do anything we set our mind to. While for the most part we realize that is an exaggeration, we still believe that we have the power to create and enact change when given the opportunity. We are not our parents’ generation, who felt that they needed to earn their opportunities through perseverance and loyalty. We have a more in-your-face attitude, which helps us get what we want. The problem is that it can rub people the wrong way if they don’t understand us. So let me try to quickly explain how we think.
When I mention that Gen Y’s don’t have the same methods for advancement as our parents, I don’t mean we are disloyal or lazy. What I mean is that we know we have value as employees, and expect to be treated like we matter – right from the start. We have seen our parents persevere and yet have their loyalty tossed aside by a company. So it is important for Gen Y to see our employers do the little things for us. When we feel like we’re an important part of our company, it then inspires us to do the little things for our employer.
In order to take advantage of the talent that Gen Y brings to the table, a company needs to make it clear that they have the best interests of employees at heart. Gen Y asks what the company can do for us, not just what we can do for the company. Making sure that there are strong employee training opportunities, good benefits and flexible hours are all great ways to make Gen Y feel secure and significant. Feeling secure and significant will certainly lead to better work ethics, loyalty and increased creativity, all of which are important for a company’s bottom line.
One only needs to look at the recent presidential election to see what is possible when you believe in Gen Y. By tapping into what makes us tick, President Obama was able to achieve what seemed like a long shot only six months earlier. Imagine the heights you could reach if you are able to connect with Gen Y in a similar way.
Jon Yale-Loehr is my nephew and co-author of our soon to be published book, Managing the Unmanageable: 21 Management Topics for Succeeding with Gen Y. He is currently based in Boston.