My Gen-Y staff have never seen a recession. How do I get through to them?

The key thing to start with is you have to be brutally honest about how the business is placed.

This has nothing to do with Gen-Y. It has everything to do with your ability to measure the downturns effect on staffing, bonuses and incentive schemes that already exist.

Assuming you have done this, you then need to communicate openly to your Gen-Ys the situation.

Remember Gen-Ys can smell a lie or misinformation a mile off, so be frank and don’t pull any punches.

The first question I would ask is ‘What are you worried about?” Make notes as they explain their concerns.

Then respond to those things that are facts, assumptions and opinions in that order. Focus on what’s fact, not fiction, and explain why so they understand.

Once you have done this, explain what your plan is to deal with the problems.

If you engage your Gen-Ys in this way, the vast majority will respond positively and help confront the challenges. You may even get some invaluable feedback.

If retrenchments are inevitable, explain company policy on how out-placement will be addressed to help them seek other work.

Keep them in the dark and they will be mentally wrestling with the unknown, and continue to jump at shadows and be de-motivated.

If business is doing well, then have a meeting with your Gen-Ys and ask them their concerns and explain openly how business is, and flag the challenges you anticipate.

Again, ask Gen-Y for their feedback on how to deal with the challenges, and engage them so the lines of communication are clear and open, from the executive team to the management team to the general staff.

This applies to any business whether there are three people or 300 staff.



Ross Fletcher is a lawyer, accredited mediator and the author of Talk Rich, a book about relationship building. He delivers seminars and training programs on communication, negotiations and how to better deal with conflict in the workplace. He also co-hosts The Illegals radio program on Melbourne’s 3WBC.


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