Are your managers ready for Gen Y employees?
Posted On July 25, 2023
Generation Y or the “Internet Generation” will drastically change every aspect of your business in the next five years!
The change will be constant, fast and revolutionary. Do you want proof?
First, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is putting all of its 1,500 courses online. MIT believes that “the spread of knowledge and information can open new doors to the powerful benefits of education for humanity around the world.” That means students, educators, and self-learners will be able to attend these courses whenever and wherever they want.
Second, Bob Lutz, a vice president at General Motors, runs a blog to communicate directly with his customers. It’s an invaluable way to bring important information to market. It is also a vehicle for timely and accurate feedback. Other GM executives are creating blogs to speak directly to their employees and get information from them. By comparison, Microsoft has more than 1,500 customer and employee blogs.
Third, YouTube is an overnight internet success story. It allows people to upload and share videos over the Internet. To date they have 100 million videos on their site and receive another 65,000 per day. The company was founded in February 2005 and was never profitable. However, Google realized the potential of its technology and bought the company nineteen months later for $1.65 billion.
While Gen X employees are savvy about the Internet, multitasking, and instant communication, Gen Y members excel at using all three of these tools and willpower use them to transform the business. They will challenge all aspects of the workplace.
How do different generational employees view managers?
B.omers: The boss isn’t always right, but the boss is always the boss. I will put in long hours to get by. If necessary, I will do it at the expense of my family.
Generation X: The boss isn’t always right, but I won’t be here long. I saw my parents’ jobs get reduced or outsourced, so I don’t have the same loyalty to a company that they do. I’m not married to the company; I value my life outside of work.
Millennials: The boss isn’t always right, but are you open to new ways of doing business? Events like 9/11 and the Columbine High School shooting have taught us that life can be fleeting. The Internet has exposed us to new ways of approaching life and work. I want flexibility, to be valued for my ideas and my work, and I want free time to volunteer.
They are called Generation Y, as in “why”, because they constantly question the status quo. They are almost as big as the Boomer generation and are more than 65% bigger than the Generation X group. In the next twenty-five years 80 million Boomers will retire. As the Boomers retire, Gen X employees will become the managers of Gen Y. However, due to their sheer size, Gen Y will be the overwhelming influence in the workplace for the next fifty years.
Generation Y fully embraces technology. Today’s twenty-year-old college graduate was just five years old when the Internet was developed in 1992. They have literally always had the world at their fingertips. They grew up with instant messaging, text messaging, cell phones, iPods, PDAs, MySpace, YouTube, multitasking, and blogging. They think and act in terms of instant communication. While Generation X employees understood and used these vehicles, Generation Y is totally immersed in them.
The Baby Boomers changed the culture of civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. Their world was shaped by the Cold War. Members of Generation Y were born after the Civil Rights Act (1964) was passed, the gay rights movement began (1969), the first woman sat on the United States Supreme Court (1975), and the Berlin Wall fell (1990). The struggles that many of us remember are accepted facts in your world. Gen Yers embrace diversity as an accepted norm and until recently knew nothing about war. His world has always included diversity.
Each of us has memories of some recent tragic events: the Oklahoma bombing, the Columbine High School shootings, the World Trade Center bombing, and three wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror. If you were between thirteen and fifteen years old, how would these events shape your thoughts about the future? In a practical way, these members of Generation Y remain optimistic.
Members of Generation Y are group-oriented, confident, goal-oriented, and civic-minded. They have a more worldly outlook than Gen Xers. These new hires have been coddled by their parents. As children they received trophies for the simple fact of participating in a team. The parents told them that they were special and capable of doing anything. His non-school activities were scheduled (eg, karate, soccer, etc.) and his parents were not afraid to call a teacher, coach, or Boy Scout leader if they thought their son was not being treated fairly.
Generation Y kids have been raised with instant communication, unrealistic feedback, and quick decision-making as the norm. They think they have the world in the palm of their hand. And, with their knowledge of today’s technology, they do.
So what can your managers do to prepare for Gen Y employees? Generation Y employees want to be heard and valued by their company when they start their company. They place great value on family and flexibility and volunteer their time to make them feel important. They are fearless and are not intimidated by titles or corporate organizational charts.
They love variety and are not afraid of change. If they think they have a good suggestion, they’ll take ownership of the idea. And they won’t be afraid to take the idea to the corporate scale to be heard.
Successful companies must find ways to harness the talents of new hires, integrate them into the company, and turn ideas into competitive advantage. Progressive companies understand that learning is a two-way street. Generation Y employees will revolutionize internal and external communications. Companies have a lot to teach Generation Y, but they also have a lot to learn from them. That will be difficult in rigid and highly structured companies.
Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric, stated that “…awareness of e-commerce is often inversely proportional to age and rank.” Hiring, challenging, and retaining good employees has always been the hallmark of successful companies.
Today’s successful companies must develop a culture of learning, sharing and accepting change. They will employ two-way mentoring, blogs, new training platforms, and new ways to hire and promote people.
Training for Gen Y employees will change. Boring all-day seminars will become less frequent. Generation Y employees will be texting their friends during those seminars. They need the information in the webinar, but companies will have the training available on different platforms and in smaller portions. These training modules can be downloaded to an employee’s Blackberry, iPod or computer. The employee will view the sessions at his home, on an airplane, or listen to them in the car on the way to an appointment.
This is an exciting and dynamic time for business! The change will be constant, fast and revolutionary.
Generation Y employees will change the way we look at hiring, turnover, mentoring, performance reviews, employee orientation, retention issues, and the way we communicate with our employees and customers. Are your managers ready for this new employee?
Questions for discussion:
- It takes about six months for a new employee to “learn the ropes” and will likely leave the company within four years. How will your managers make the most of the creative energies of Gen Y employees?
- What systems within your company need to be overhauled to take advantage of these upcoming changes?
- How can you drastically change the way you communicate with your customers and your employees?