Posted Wednesday, 1 December at 2:47 pm in People
I’m fed up with these twentysomethings with their tweets and their texts and their three-second attention spans, rocking up late to work every day oblivious to the needs of anyone but themselves. Apparently I’m meant to call these flickr-and-you’ll-miss-it types ‘colleagues’ and interact with them on a professional level. God only knows how. I mean, I turn up to work every day on time and apply myself with the same passion as I did in my first heady days of employment 18 years ago (and for the record, there was a recession on then too). I get paid a decent wage and I go home satisfied (mostly) with a good day’s toil behind me. I am pleased (even lucky) to be employed and I strive in every way possible to make my job a success – for my employer and myself. So the question I have is: ‘Why is all of that not enough for these so-called millennial babes? What more do they want? What right do they have to complain so much, expect so much, demand so much? And where, oh where, is their loyalty?’
These are just some of the sentiments held by Gen X and baby boomers alike about their fellow cohort, Generation Y (otherwise known as millennials, generation next or the net generation). Indeed, Gen Y is entering the workforce with an entirely different – some might say alien – set of values, attitudes and expectations. As Graham Brown recently wrote for online blog yourLifeWorks, Gen Y ‘are tech-savvy, travel-mad, self-absorbed, peer-pressured, celebrity-obsessed, Facebook-compulsive, iPod-wearing, brand-conscious 20-somethings who live with their parents and show no loyalty to their employer (and that’s the good stuff).’ So how are we expected to work with them? Manage them? Lead them? And when we’ve got over our annoyance and realise that we need them in order to sustain the workforce, how do we attract them? Engage them? Keep them?
An international survey by global workforce solutions leader Kelly Services (the Kelly Global Workforce Index) recently found that communication styles and attitudes toward rewards are key generational differences that affect workplace productivity. Forty per cent of Australian respondents believe that these differences make the workplace more productive; 23 per cent believe they interfere with productivity; and 24 per cent believe they make no difference.
Kelly Services Managing Director, James Bowmer, said that generational differences can sometimes cause friction between employees but, when properly managed, can also be a source of growth. ‘When the differences between the age groups are harnessed effectively, they can provide a powerful stimulus to creativity and productivity. Rather than trying to smother this diversity, good employers are utilising it to generate fresh ideas and new ways of doing business.’
Among the survey’s key findings were:
It has long been acknowledged that age-related differences do have an impact on the way people go about their work. Indeed, this survey showed that Gen Y and Gen X employees are more likely than baby boomers to adapt their communication style when dealing with colleagues from a different generation.
Mr Bowmer said it is important that employers recognise the key differences between the generations and manage them effectively in order to achieve a harmonious balance and a productive work environment. ‘Juggling these pressures is challenging but by addressing issues such as compensation and internal communications amongst others, it is possible to reap the benefit from a diverse group of people, and generate conditions that can help organisations to flourish.’
So how do we go about managing Gen Y in the workplace? The following tips come courtesy of a number of HR consultants and commentators on the web:
So is it a case of managing the unmanageables? Or just a case of changing our expectations?