Wednesday, January 30, 2013

So What’s With This Younger Generation Anyway?

Photo Credit: Open View Blog

The Internet was alive this week with another round of stories about Generation Y and the struggle many appear to be having to make their way in the adult world of work and life. 

Gen Ys were born between 1986 and 2000, making the oldest 26 years of age while the youngest are still in grade school. As the best educated generation, they are also burdened by record student debt, struggling to find permanent jobs and therefore reportedly likely to be living at home for years to come.

Employers complain about Gen Y’s poor work ethic, obsession with technology, inattentiveness to detail and lack of concern with authority or rules. Managers report feeling lost on how to motivate younger employees and how to get employees from older generations to work with them.

Recent research by best-selling author Paula J. MacLean provides insights and strategies on how to work with this puzzling generation.  Her research shows that Gen Ys regard themselves as having a high work ethic, a perception that older co-workers do not share.

Connecting to Gen Ys intrinsic source of motivation is not as difficult as you might imagine. Many from this generation work best in groups. This should be no surprise, they grew up attending play school, preschool, kindergarten and many also participated in team sports. As a result, they understand cooperation, relationship building and how to compromise better than any other generation.  

Unlike Boomers who were raised to compete and rise to the top, Gen Ys value team contribution over individual accomplishment or winning.  As a generation (and not without individual exceptions) they are decidedly not a good fit in highly competitive workplaces.  They are respectful of authority only after creating personal connections with those who are their bosses. They can be fiercely loyal to customers and employers only when they perceive their work matters and connects them to some greater good. 

7 New Rules for the Sandbox is a new book on generational diversity based on ground-breaking research with all four generations in the workplace. It provides answers and strategies on how to attract, motivate, supervise, retain and create happy and productive cross-generational teams. 

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