Working With Generation Y Employees

These Are the Characteristics of Gen Y Workers

Office Workers
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The Generation Y cadre of young adults now joining the workforce is often painted as over-parented, pampered, and coddled.

Granted, some members of the Gen Y workforce have a difficult time adjusting to employment, but others bring skills that should be emulated. Not all Gen Y employees are the same, and it is a mistake to paint them all with the same brush.

The Downside of the Gen Y Employee 

  • They perceive themselves as the smartest and the best. Even though they achieved a GPA of 3.0+ in their less than rigorous degree programs, Mom and Dad lauded them as super smart and forgave the academic grade.
  • Gen Y workers think they are good at everything and everything should come easily. This belief created children who weren’t prepared for a rigorous college program. Many students arrived unprepared with the appropriate background for degree programs that employers need.
    This created a plethora of young adults now graduating with urban planning, gender and ethnic studies, humanities, arts and sciences, and psychology degrees. Meanwhile, there's a dearth of students with computer science, science, healthcare, and math skills.
  • They feel entitled to a lot of money, quick promotions, and only positive reinforcement. How many applications from graduating, potential workers have you seen who actually had real jobs? While many have jobs or internships listed on their resumes, think about what happened during all those semesters when nothing was going on. How many potential internships were not pursued? However much voluntary campus and civic work could have been undertaken but wasn't? If questioned, many will say that college is their last real chance to have fun before becoming an adult and being weighed down with responsibilities. On the other hand, the college years should be a year-round, year after year, learning opportunity—and one in which students try different things in order to discover their passion.
  • This generation was tethered to their parents by cell phones, text messages, and constant oversight. Gen Y is not the first generation of children who were not set free by their parents in the morning and told to come home when the streetlights came on. And while we live in a more dangerous world than one or two generations ago, being untethered is a chance to learn responsibility.
    This creates a scenario in which managers are expected to give daily feedback and praise within a workplace structure.

    The Upside of the Gen Y Employee

    • Gen Y is very tech-savvy. Because Gen Y grew up with technology, they can perform their jobs better. Armed with smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets, this generation is plugged in 24/7 and can work from anywhere. They like to communicate through email, text messaging, and whatever new social media platform (i.e., Twitter, Instagram) friends and colleagues are using.  
    • They are family-oriented. The fast-track lifestyle has lost much of its appeal for this Gen Y. The members of this generation are willing to trade high pay for fewer billable hours, flexible schedules, and a better work/life balance. They still get the job done, they're just more satisfied overall because their life is not ruled by work 
    • They are achievement-oriented. Nurtured and pampered by parents who didn't want to make the mistakes of the previous generation, Gen Ys are confident and have high expectations of their employers. They aren't afraid to question authority and want meaningful work.
    • Gen Y is all about the team. While growing up, most Gen Y boys and girls participated in team sports,  and were active participants in various group activities, whether it was soccer or ballet. Because of this,  they are comfortable with—and value—teamwork and seek the input and affirmation of others. They are the true no-person-left-behind generation, always showing loyal and committed. They truly want to be included and involved at work. 
    • The Gen Y worker likes to job-hop. A potential downside of the Gen Y worker is that it is not uncommon for them to stay with a firm for only two or three years before moving on to a position they think is better. But, don’t discount this as a negative. These young employees bring with them a variety of experiences from multiple jobs and companies. They have been exposed to different cultures and tend to get along with people from all backgrounds.