Employing Gen Y

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Ask any employer what is the most challenging issue in company. The answer is usually, employees, especially theGen Y.

Managing people is not easy, but not impossible. I often hear about challenges faced by employers in managing Gen Y employees. There is a huge generation gap amongst the Baby Boomers, Gen X and the Gen Y. Differences in doing, speaking, acting and thinking.

(Disclaimer : what I’m writing here is based on personal observation and work experience. It does not represent world population at large.)

People from the older schools (me included), learned that hard work and smart work paid off. That it all start with hard work first, of course. Serving employers and doing the right thing as expected by employers will pay off. Be proactive and keep working more, even if it includes overtime and weekends. Hardly claim medical leaves and seldom use their annual leaves. Be on time to work but leave late. Some would even go to the office during off days.

The new generation, Gen Y, in the work force : Most of them would prefer to work smart than work hard. Working overtime or extra during the weekend is not favorable. Friday evening is the start of a great weekend. Punctuality is tough. Medical leaves are quite normal, especially following weekends or public holiday. Some may struggle with business writing, reporting and presentation.

However, these young people are very good at IT. Give them the computer, laptop, tablets, cellphones and they can show you all the tricks and shortcuts in the world. They can also think fast, though might not be systematically. They use this knowledge and skill to their advantage in completing their tasks at work. I guess that’s why they feel that working hard isn’t necessary. The most the employers could do is to capitalize in such skills. I’ve seen these young folks come up with impressive and creative presentation slides, worksheets and ways to solve some IT issues. These are missing in older generation. So, if the employer knows how to mix and match the job specs, I feel, they can have the best of both worlds.

It is indeed challenging to employers and Human Resources Specialists to find the right employees to fit into their organizational culture. Reason being, they bring with them their own culture, like it or not. They are not afraid to voice their thoughts and if they are not contented with the workplace or colleagues, they move on. They are not afraid of what future employers think about their job hopping activities shown on their CV.

As I said, employers and HR Specialists must do what is right for this generation. They have to motivate and make them see the big game plan (company blue print) so that they know where they are heading in the company. Make them enjoy their work by giving them challenges that is in line with their expertise.

I know it is easier said than done. I’m sure we can all do it. When the Baby Boomers met the Gen X they faced such challenges similar to now. The generational culture shock faced by all initially but after some time, they find ways to live and work together in harmony. Now, the Gen X face similar challenges with Gen Y which I believe the latter will then face with Gen Z.

We have to find common grounds and learn from each other. Mutual respect is important as learning from each other. Sharing of knowledge and experience is encouraged. The younger ones are quick in searching for solutions but they may lack the experience of problem solving, crisis management, public speaking and people relations. Just have to find a common ground and meet halfway.

The Gen Y would usually bring cheer to the workplace with their happy-go-lucky attitude. Of course, there is limit in everything. Meet halfway by relaxing the stiff organizational culture and to impose a little more discipline is important areas where appropriate. Most frustration stem from lack of understanding. Communicate and close ranks.

Cheers to all! May you have a happier workplace.

~ Alice N.


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