The secret to managing Gen Y

It is apt that they’re called Generation Y because they are likely to ask ‘Why?’ often. “Why should I do this?” and ‘Why are we doing this?’ are common queries from this unique, ambitious and passionate generation.

The reason for this is that, unlike their Generation X counterparts, this new group of employees demand a higher level of freedom, autonomy and flexibility in their positions. They need to know when, how and why before getting to work – they don’t just simply ‘do’.

This isn’t necessarily bad thing; it just means that they need to be managed differently to other generations.

It is estimated that by 2025, Generation Y workers will make up 75% of the workforce. And they tend to ‘job hob’, staying in the one for position for approximately two years. This is a nightmare for a company in terms of staff retention so how can you keep a Generation Y motivated enough to stay?

These eight tips will help you manage and retain Generation Y in your workplace:

  1. Gen Y’s are motivated by job fulfilment. Unlike other generations – who were simply happy with getting the job done, the younger generation need to feel like they are making a difference and that their contribution in the workplace is meaningful.
  2. Consistent feedback and positive affirmation is the key to a Generation Y’s productivity; if they feel like they are being recognised for their work, they will work harder.
  3. Gen Y need to know their skill set and their areas of incompetency. Management must give it to them straight by identifying areas that they’re good at and where they need to improve. Don’t forget to back this up with training too.
  4. Managing Gen Y is a constant balance; they demand freedom and power in the decision making process, but the trick is to allow them some, but not complete, control. Every kind of employee needs some kind of structure, boundaries and consequences.
  5. A great tip is to teach Gen Y the business hierarchy. Thirty years ago employees came in to the workforce with an inherent understanding of the internal food chain of business. Now, this has to be taught in detail and taught to be respected.
  6. It is best to make sure you spend time communicating with Gen Y’ers online. In addition to having conversations, always follow up with an email outlining the expectations stemming from the meeting. This keeps the employee accountable.
  7. Gen Y was born in the era of technology and therefore need constant stimulation. Keep their minds buzzing with a constant workflow; don’t let leave them to sit around and seek out projects. Conduct brainstorming sessions where they are encourage to submit their ideas and make it clear that their creativity and innovation will be rewarded.
  8. Remember that you’re the boss. While you need to be flexible, your work must remain objective-based and goal-oriented and your employees need to come to the table. Don’t be intimidated by this up and coming generation.

It can be hugely rewarding to foster young talent and when Gen Y’s are managed properly the company can create an innovative and modern atmosphere. Managing independently minded individuals is an art that requires manager to be patient and open-minded. Remind yourself and your employees daily that the workplace is built on a balance of give and take.

This article first appeared on Women’s Agenda.


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