Understanding Generation Y – (birth years ranging between 1980s to early 2000s)

As Director of Human Resources, one of the many challenges is to learn how to navigate between generations and understand how to effectively communicate.

The newer generation joining the workforce is the Millennial (Generation Y).

Millennials have the reputation of being the toughest generation to manage. They grew up in a culturally diverse school and are tech-savvy, enthusiastic, self-centered, confident, well networked and achievement-oriented. Millennials are one of the best educated generations in history. Thanks to mobile technology their “helicopter parents” were rarely out of reach. Their parents focused on filling every moment of their Millennial children’s lives – introducing them to an unprecedented volume of well -structured and well supervised education and activities. Their busy schedules and expanded educational opportunities is where their confidence and need for variety and challenge comes from.

Millennials have been told by their parents that they can do anything. They are often called the “Everybody Gets a Trophy” generation because their parents’ insisted that their childhood experiences be positive and that no one felt left out. Coming in first at school and at play wasn’t the goal – they were regularly praised and rewarded for their ‘best efforts’. Their helicopter parents brought them up teaching them that everyone has a valid opinion and deserves to be taken seriously… at least heard.

Employment Expectations

Millennials do not expect to “pay their dues.” They expect their opinions to be heard and considered and are not usually shy. Millennials want to know that what they are doing is valuable to the company and/or environment… as well as valuable to them and their career.

They are driven less by money and more by accomplishment. Millennials want to express their creativity and be able to complete tasks on their own – using their own methods. They will be quick to go online and search the www as well as ask their own network of friends / associates for information and stimulation. They are learning-oriented and if they’re doing something wrong they want to know about it now so they can move on.

Millennials were brought up working in teams with shared rewards – and they want to be coached / mentored. They want to know they have access to an open door to ask questions, and this usually means they will ask many questions.

Millennial parents and teachers gave Millennials lots of praise as well as second, third and even fourth chances. So as adults they need the same from their employer. They want to be told often they are on the right track and doing a great job. Millennials are accustomed to new ideas and situations, a constant opportunity to learn (or more accurately find out). As long as their personal interest and career needs are being met (which change frequently) – and the company is socially responsible, the Millennial will be loyal. But they are not concerned about job-hopping. They will quit now and find that job later – and if that doesn’t work out they can always count on their helicopter parents for support.

Praise Millennials often – daily even… and for sure… coach them.

What shall we expect from Generation Z: Born between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s?

So far relatively little is firmly established about the character and motivators of Generation Z-ers, but as children of X-ers who have grown up in the shadows of 9-11 and the war on Iraq, as well as access to information through the internet, cell phones, iPod’s, YouTube and Facebook pages they will likely be even more ambitious and more ‘worldly’ than any other new generation.

To read interesting data on generation Y please consult the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey
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