10 Tips for Managing Gen Y

istock_000008275141xsmall1by Elizabeth Harrin (London)

Generation Y (also known as ‘The Millennial Generation’) are people born between the late 1970’s and early 1990’s, and represent the demographic cohort following Generation X. Chances are you have some in your department. They don’t have the same approach to work to that of their older colleagues. We offer up our top 10 tips for managing that population:

  1. Be their mentor
    Millennials prefer to self manage and they expect managers to play the role of mentor. Companies should provide structured autonomy for their Gen Y staff, where supervisors and managers serve as coaches and mentors to constantly nurture the need for learning and growth,” says Michelle Brailsford, President of the European Professional Women’s Network of London.
  2. Give feedback quickly
    Due to the role of technology in their lives, Gen Y expects both immediate and constant feedback. Tell them how they are doing on a regular basis – don’t wait until review time.
  3. Watch out for itchy feet
    Nearly 90% of Generation Ys describe themselves as loyal to their employer, but that doesn’t mean they will stick with you forever.They don’t believe in or expect a ‘job for life’. On top of that, Gen Ys are highly adept at reinvention so if their needs are not met, they will reinvent themselves and move on.
  4. Provide challenges
    The expectations of what a job is have changed significantly, and they are not content to turn up, work 8 hours and go home. Check that the Gen Ys in your department are significantly challenged – some would uncharitably say that’s due to shorter attention spans – and if they aren’t, find something that will challenge them.
  5. Make work fun
    Gen Y does not only want to enjoy their work, they expect to enjoy their work. Again, this is about different perceptions of what work means: spending more time with colleagues than with family and friends means that work people become friends. The environment at the office is crucially important to this generation, so make it welcoming and fun.
  6. Don’t discriminate
    Do I even have to point this one out? All of the women studied in recent London Business School research ‘knew something happened to women in the workforce when they approached their 30’s and starting families.’ “Since they have not experienced gender discrimination growing up—not at school nor in society—they don’t necessarily expect it in the world of work,” explains Brailsford. “Thus, by default, Gen Y women feel that women’s networks are for older women, not them.”
  7. Be family friendly
    Both Gen Y women and men expect to remain in employment once starting a family. Make it easy for them, and the family friendly policies will also improve the working lives of your older employees. Gen Ys believe they have more choice about work-life balance than previous generations, and if they don’t have it at your company they are likely to look for it elsewhere.
  8. Encourage technology
    Companies need to allow Gen Y to leverage their technology skills,” says Brailsford. That’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. Don’t restrict access to these sites because you think this is ‘socialising or time away from work.’ “Gen Y often does not have sharp boundaries between work and social and often integrate work into their social experience and thus help grow grass-roots company visibility,” Brailsford adds.
  9. Offer personal and professional development
    Gen Y women (and men) are interested in continually improving and developing themselves. They want the autonomy to shape their own careers, and that means providing the tools to allow them to develop personally and professionally, so they have options around where they want to go.
  10. Allow international mobility
    International assignments are sometimes seen as the preserve of older, more experienced employees – most notably, men. Gen Y employees are highly mobile, which is partly due to the sense of there not being jobs for life any more. They go where the work is, and often – as a result of university and online connections – have friends and contacts overseas. Gen Y see themselves as part of the global village and will appreciate being considered for international assignments.

These tips are based on Professor Ellen Miller’s research findings of The Reflexive Generation; Young Professionals’ Perspectives on Work, Career and Gender; an in-depth study of the impact and effects of Generation Y in the workplace.  The results were presented in London, UK, recently by the European Professional Women’s Network of London and the London Business School.  Read the whole research report here.

0 Response

  1. Anna

    I come from generation Y and those points are true.
    I left my well paid job last month after working for a company for only 7 months, as I felt I did not have opportunity to progress anymore. I moving overseas for 8 month contract next month.


  2. GS

    Excellent article, the problem is that many gen X women have already left the work force or sacrificed family to stay in work…gen X men don’t seem to be able to relate with gen Y, unless it is a father/son type of relationship, which is very dull and uninspiring to gen Y women, especially when played out on loop.

  3. You offer a lot of strong management points around Gen Y employees. The one point that I have found to be very important is to provide a steady stream of feedback to this generation. They are willing to work hard but are use to the stimulation of regular interaction and expect their managers to provide this to them.

    Good article and thanks for the post.

  4. Q VanBenschoten

    Enjoyed the article and wanted to chime in that three of the points are not just key for Gen Y, but anyone at any age.
    #2 – Giving feedback quickly in all directions (boss, direct report, co-worker, teammate) helps others feel appreciated if they are doing well, or lets them know something is an issue so that it can be corrected and everyone can move on.
    # 4 and 5 – Spending time watching the clock at work is unproductive and demoralizing. If work is fun and challenging, employees are happier, more productive, and less likely to look for other employment options. If an employee is viewed by recruiters/headhunters as a key target, that tells me we made a good hire. If we keep them engaged, they are more likely to chose to stay when wooed by others. And THAT is an employee who is committed.

  5. Great article and very useful tips, thank you.
    I found this article on twitter and we’ll be adding you to our favourite twitter links of the week on our website.

    Being part of Gen Y myself, I feel that all of the tips are very relevant – in relation to tip 8 (Encourage Technology) there was a news report just last week how a council had removed all access to networking sites and twitter as they felt it was disctracting staff from their work.

    I wonder about the reasons/feelings behind this decision, is it because Gen Y can’t be trusted to spend their time wisely or prioritise actions? (Being Gen Y I don’t think this is the case!!) Or is it that managers are unable to connect with the possible opportunities social networking can bring to business and personal development that might actuall enhance performance and productivity????

    We have a big presence in the call centre industry, and I wonder how many team leaders and managers would benefit from these tips, if only they were able to access twitter and find them, like I have this morning… we’ll continue to spread the word!

    Thanks again!

  6. GenXer

    These tips are useful, yet they don’t represent what today’s workplace actually IS.
    Today’s workplace will not “cater” and “hover” and “plow the way” for it’s employes…your boss is your boss. Your manager is your manager, not your Mom. With all of Gen Y’s positive attributes they bring to the workplace, they also bring much entitlement. This poses a big problem for conduct in a corporate world. Less time on FaceBook and iPhone, more time on training for the job world.