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Working with Generation Y

Working with Generation Y

Nealeigh Mitchell | MonsterCollege

June 24, 2010

With a fresh batch of Gen Y graduates entering the workforce, there are now four distinct generations vying for fewer and fewer spots. Veterans and Baby Boomers who’ve spent their lives paying their dues are pitted against youngsters desperate to prove their worth in a steadily shrinking economy.

Put generational differences in values, views, and communication into the mix and things can get dicey.

On a bad day, Gen Y is accused of being entitled, power hungry, and overly optimistic. However, their technological savviness, ambition, and diversity can be a boon if leveraged well.

Gen Y is different, but if employers and coworkers are in tune with what they want from their jobs and know how to manage them well, these differences can be a source of creativity instead of conflict.

So what do Gen Yers expect from their jobs?

Flexibility — Having written term papers on BlackBerrys and aced exams without ever going to class, Gen Y is used to thriving in an independent atmosphere. The autonomous, “work at your own pace” culture of a college environment will likely clash with a company dependent on hourly meetings and catch-ups. As long as they meet their goals and deadlines, they’re looking to do it how — and where — they choose.

Fair Credit — Gen Y is used to being recognized for the slightest accomplishment and may expect to continue hauling in trophies for their triumphs. They’ll begin building a reputation on Day 1 and expect credit for hard work. Also, don’t be surprised if they request access to decision makers early on. Climbing the ladder for three years just to get face time with the top brass may not sit well with them. Impatient? Maybe. Eager? Definitely.

Fair Compensation — Along those lines, Gen Y expects to be paid for this hard work. Having been raised on the merit system, they’ll challenge the veterans who use tenure as a weapon. Gen Y is more than willing to pay their dues but expect to be justly — and promptly — rewarded for what they’ve accomplished.

Work-Life Balance — Gen Y works to live — not the other way around. They’ll put in their hours but aren’t keen on clocking in every other weekend. Working moms paved the way for their daughters and sons to enjoy a family-friendly workforce, and the younger generation is determined to reap the benefits. If you don’t have it at your company, they’ll likely look for it elsewhere.

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