by 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.