Gen Y Greatness

Gen Y Greatness

Gen Y employees aren’t just a source of anxiety as we learn to manage them. They’re also changing the workforce for the better – for us all.

By Roberta Chinsky Matuson

Here is how some people are describing Gen Y, those born between 1980 and 1994, the most recent group to hit the workplace:

• Radical

• They want to change the world
• Environmentalists

• Entitled

• What’s with the hair?

Wait a minute! This is exactly how baby boomers were described in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and they didn’t turn out so bad. Like it or not, Gen Y has arrived, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. That is good news because this generation has many great attributes. Here are a few:

They’re efficient.

When it comes to technology, this group is fearless. Pushed a wrong button? So what? Try another. This generation has grown up using computers. They are ready, willing and able to automate everything in front of them.

Do not mistake their ability to use short cuts as laziness. It’s efficiency taken to a whole new level. Call it reverse mentoring. If you’re willing to learn from them, you too may be able to finish your work in time to attend an early evening yoga class.

They’re always asking “why?”

They are ambitious and demanding, questioning everything of everything. This is exactly what your company needs if you are serious about continuous improvement and growth. The world – business, technology, international relations, you name it – is changing, and these fearless youngsters think outside the box with ease – and represent a growing element of your customer base. Take the time to respond to their questions and consider their suggestions. That is, after all, what you’re paying them for.

They get life/work balance.

Consider just how much balance changed when women entered the workforce and, because of familial duties, couldn’t devote their entire lives to their companies. Now Gen Y has upped the ante. Because technology has made it possible for them to work from anywhere, anytime – and maybe because they watched their mothers work too hard – most will accept nothing less than a career that fits into their lives (not the other way around) and allows them to work on their own terms. Employers looking to hire and retain young employees have little choice but to weave some semblance of balance into the fabric of their organizations.

It is no secret that Americans live to work while people in other countries work to live. How productive are your employees when they are distracted by family matters or simply tired? Thank you, Gen Y, for making this concept real.

They keep learning.

People from this generation absorb knowledge like a sponge absorbs water. Organizations are responding by providing more opportunities for training and education. We are all benefiting from their push for learning.

Gone are the days when you were permitted to attend one seminar a year. Online programs are accessible 24/7, and you can even attend college in the comfort of your own home. Just remember to wear a nice top in case the webcam is on.

This generation will change the world. You can get onboard now or watch from the sidelines. The choice is yours.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions, helps companies align their people assets with their business goals. An expert in generational workforce issues, Matuson publishes a monthly newsletter, HR Matters. Click here to read her new blog on Generation Integration.

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