Gen Y, Oh Why?

Weekend papers regularly feature stories about “Generation Y” – the group of over 4million people born between about 1977 and 1999. It may be entertaining to read about their quirks, but these people are now starting to enter the workforce, so employers need to have an understanding of the characteristics of Gen Y.

Gen Y are commonly described as
· very confident of themselves
· impatient
· quick to learn
· positive about the future, and
· spending significant amounts of time socialising using computers and mobile phones.174704502_1830df1ae2_z

So, what does that mean if you are recruiting new young people?

Gen Y will be looking for vacancies on the Internet, while their parents scan the local newspaper. You might consider a two-pronged approach with a small paper ad which shows your company name (brand), the job title and just enough words to excite Mum and Dad. Then your Internet ad should contain the detail to excite Gen Y – use colour so that your vacancy looks different from the text-only ads, show photos of your existing employees smiling at work, talk about growth and technology where appropriate. Of course, you still need a basic description of what the work entails, however Gen Y will be wanting to see if your workplace looks like an interesting and fun place to be.

And, what if you already have young employees?

With Gen Y, their loyalty to anything is often fragile. If they don’t like your workplace, they will leave and then start looking for other work. (The older generations would hang on until they secured another job). To a large extent, you need to entertain the Gen Ys, and there is a way to do this which will tap into their impatience and their need for fast-paced learning.

You need to set up a Learning Log, which is a plan of all the Topics needed to be mastered before a person can be considered for the next position. Although the Topics might be broad, the individual sub-topics will be small and very quick to learn. For example, learning Front End Supervision in a supermarket would entail knowing all aspects of entry-level check-out operation plus
1) accessing the safe
2) handling returns
3) handling abusive customers
4) confronting suspected shoplifters
5) emergency evacuation drill coordination
6) rotating staff.

In the past, a business might train all of those things in a single 4 hour session of mostly theory. However by using a staged approach, you would show six separate lessons. Each mini-lesson would have a small amount of theory, then a walk-through of the appropriate Standard Operating Procedure and finally spend an appropriate number of hours doing the activity under the watchful eye of your most experienced Supervisor.

Short, sharp lessons building up towards the end point makes for a program which engages the Gen Y employee.

Final Thought

Rather than shaking your head in frustration at Gen Ys, your challenge is to tap into their many strengths so that your business can ride the fast wave into the future.