Times are changing, and along with it so does our access to information. Some time ago finding the right information was not so easy as it is today. The Gen X-ers had to work harder, put in a lot more effort to gather enough information to do the job.
Today, it is no longer a question of finding the information. Today, whatever you need to know is only a wifi connection away. Today, Gen Y is it all about eliminating the excess and unwanted information. It is not an easy task – eliminating unwanted information. Especially, in a day and age where we have become all too accustomed to multitasking and absorbing information from so many different sources within the span of a short time.
Another issue current organizations are facing with regards to hiring and retaining Y gens and Millennials is their tendency to job hop the moment dissatisfaction sets in. It is natural, that when we enter a new life stage, be it a relationship, marriage, new country or a new job, that around the time when 6 months has passed human beings naturally tend to evaluate their current life situation and as the honeymoon period of a relationship fades away into other more mundane emotions human beings, we find it difficult to be as enthralled by this new phase of our life as before. While one saw X gens used to hold on to their responsibilities in their workplace out of values of hard work, commitment and loyalty, they find that that Y gens tend to give upon the occupation altogether and moving on to new things. People also often mention how Y gens do not take criticism well, require constant feedback, seek immediate gratification and detest adhering to the rules and the regulations laid upon them.
However, one must question, is it just the values and the attitudes of the Y gen that makes them difficult employees and coworkers? Or it also the unwillingness of Gen X-ers to adapt to the change in the workplace dynamics that is causing the rift?
In an ever changing, and fast paced world, Y gens are actually beginning to adapt to a newly created world and working culture that we oftentimes refuse to acclimatize to.
Increasingly, the composition of the workplace is shifting from being predominantly X gens, to being equally shared by both X and Y gens and in another 20 years, organizations will have a majority of Y gens, mixed in with X gens and Millennials. Taking this into consideration, merely lamenting about the Y gen work ethic is no longer a feasible option. Organizations must and should adapt to accommodate their Y gen employees in order to continue and prosper.
Take a moment to think, are your organization’s culture and processes changing to accommodate this shift in the workplace composition?
Research shows that when a given a choice, individuals are far more receptive to rules and regulations than they would be if they were laid down too strictly. Employees naturally feel like they have more of a say over some aspects of their work life, they tend to feel more accountable and responsible for their own choices. How can organizations use this simple principle to enhance employee commitment and organizational loyalty, especially of the Y generation?
Y gens are often open to change, more flexible and willing to work at any time. Many organizations in Sri Lanka that have adapted policies of ‘flexi hours’ have seen the success of it – many of the younger employees feel more productive during the night hours and like to arrive a little late for work in the morning.
Y gens also like to create personal ‘brands’ for themselves. With the current competition in the workplace and the employment climate, each employee tries to stand out the best they can. Give opportunities at the organization for employees to feel like they are part of the organization not just as an employee but also in other ways – from sports teams, to acapella competitions, from photography competitions to In-House CSR committees, the ways in which the organization can foster this feeling of belonging are limitless. Some part of what we consider disloyalty on the part of Y gens is actually not disloyalty to the organization but simply a higher concern with their work environments that is characterized with a strong sense of justice and a dislike for being taken advantage of, and a need for personal development and growth. When Y gens feel that these needs are not being met, they often tend to go in search for work environments and jobs that will provide these for them. As a leader of a team or an organization if you could find simple ways of providing this support and growth-oriented work culture for your employees, higher employee retention will soon be a much more achievable goal. Services such as mentoring, career development pathways, Millennials coaching, training in soft skills and skills that will be valuable in their daily lives such as financial counseling, parent training, as well as opportunities for your employees to become a part of their communities and serve them could in the short and long term benefit your organization greatly.