What Employers Should Know About Generation Y

Call them Generation Y, Generation Next or the Millenials, the age group is loosely defined as those born from the mid-70s to the early 2000s. In general, the 78 million Gen Ys are very familiar and comfortable with communications, mass media and digital everything. They trend toward tattoos, piercings, and other ways to express their individuality.

Here are a few things that employers in older generations (the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers) might find helpful in knowing what makes your younger employees tick:

If you telephone a Gen Y employee, don’t be surprised if you don’t get a call back. Not all Gen Ys ignore the phone, but as a group they prefer IMing (instant messaging) and texting to email and telephone calls. Voice mails are often not listened to at all. This generation is more likely to just note that you called than to listen to your voice mail!

They live online. Gen Yers spend more than 3.5 hours on the internet every day, on average. And they’re not checking email. Social networking is a big part of their lives, and they check in with friends and family on Facebook rather than on email. Gen Yers are used to knowing what’s going on with their friends via Facebook, and expect to communicate through that network. If you’re not on Facebook, you’re not likely to know what a Gen Yer is up to.

Gen Yers have been spoiled a bit by their parents. They may expect a bit of indulgence in the workplace, too. For example, they value their non-work time and seek work/life balance—so they might expect their employers to cooperate with that important goal. Come up with creative compromises to make sure your goals are covered, too.

Gen Yers like change. They want to feel like they’re contributing new ideas. This might look like they want to undo procedures you’ve spent years refining. But this is one tech-smart group that doesn’t see the value in waste—of time, materials, or money. Listen to them and give their ideas more than a cursory look. You might find room for improvement, and you’ll win your employees’ loyalty.

Gen Yers like direction. Sure, many are self-directed; but others expect their employers to provide clear instructions and to state expectations. Help establish workflow, goals, and schedules, and be sure your Gen Yers know what the company’s priorities are.

Gen Y is possibly the most productive generation in history. They just might need a little more managing than others—but it’s a small price to pay!

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