In fewer than 10 years, nearly half the working population will be Millennials (born between 1982 and 1995). If you think your organization will be able to get along without them, you aren’t being realistic. Even if you know you need Generation Y, do you know who they are?
Millennials (GenY) are not the 20-30 year olds of the past; they have their own unique set of expectations when it comes to work.
Studies show that Gen Y values making friends at work, having a job people look up to, and even amount of vacation time less than previous generations. What they want is training, personal growth and career development.
Money isn’t the only motivator for Gen Y. It isn’t even the biggest motivator. They value doing meaningful work and getting a sense of accomplishment from their work higher and nearly as high as salary.
It might seem like making a ton of changes to accommodate this new generation of employee is a lot of work. And what’s in it for you anyways? A lot, actually.
You want to reach Gen Y. They are your future leaders. They might be your leaders sooner than you think. Over a third of them are already leading their own side businesses. 92% of 21-24 years old surveyed believe that understanding entrepreneurship is vital to success on the job. They are preparing to lead your organization to a level you might not yet realize it can reach.
Employers who understand how to appeal to Gen Y values will end up with the most talented Millennials in the next few years. You’ll need to empower them while keeping it fun in a flexible environment.
Don’t wait for them to come to you with issues, check in on them. This generation likes attention and values regular feedback. With 80% craving constant feedback from a supervisor, a review every six months will not do; you could lose an employee in less than that.
Keep them informed and communicate openly with them. Gen Y grew up collaborating in school and even within their families. They expect you will collaborate with them at work. They want to feel like they are a real part of the team, not a junior member or someone who will eventually earn higher level clearance. They want to be included from the beginning.
Challenge your Millennials to add to their skills and work toward career growth with you. Give them a fun and flexible environment to work in; they are mobile and can work from anywhere, so the office should be as appealing as their living room, within reason of course.
Remember, Gen Y is motivated by a feeling of accomplishment and an opportunity to do meaningful work. Let them know they are part of something important, and make them feel important.
You need Millennials, and they are looking to you hoping you’re the employer that can meet their unique needs. Are you ready for them; are you ready to make them an offer they can’t refuse?
If you answered “no,” you need to get that way, and quickly. Millennials are looking for jobs, yes, but their optimism is going to keep them from working for you, or for you for long, unless you are just right.
In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.
Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.
Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.
In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.
With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.
Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.
Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.
Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.
Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.
In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.
While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.
The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.
Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results. Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.
When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.
Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.
Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.
Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.
Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.
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