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Who Is “Gen Y”?

As an Atlas Shrugged fan, I couldn’t help the title selection – but back to my point.  Who is Gen Y?

Gen Y, or Millennials are those aged 18-30.  And their outlook on life, work, and responsibility are quite different than Boomers, and Gen X’ers.  As strange as the Millennials may seem to those of us of “older” generations, the reality is that within the next 10 years they will make up nearly one half of the GLOBAL workforce.  As we’ve studied this group (and since I’m responsible for creating one of my own), I thought it may be helpful to pass along some things to know about them.

Millennials will be the most educated generation in history.

Millennials tend to have short attention spans.  They grew up with email, cell phones and text messages.  It’s all about immediate gratification.

Millennials do not deal well with negative feedback.  They were brought up being told how wonderful they were their whole life.  Trophies for participation, everybody makes the team, no scores kept.  They went to schools where everyone gets A’s (grade inflation), and when they do get a bad grade (maybe even the dreaded C) they (or mommy or daddy) call and negotiate (demand) a better grade from the teacher.

Millennials expect to make an immediate impact when they enter a new job.

Oh – and can we say entitlement?!?!

So – how do we attract, hire and manage this group?

Attract – my suggestions are social media, internet job boards and your own web site.  Millennials will find you, and if your website or social media pages are attractive to them they will be more inclined to work for you.  Millennials LOVE social media.  Have a presence there and your odds of attracting them are better.  And while they do read (a lot) – they’re reading on their computer, Kindle, iPad or phone.  They aren’t reading traditional printed books, magazines or newspapers.

Hire – play to their egos.  Remember, they’ve been told how wonderful they are their whole life.  Then – please – just assess the heck out of them.  Make sure they have the skills and personality to do the job you are considering them for.

Manage – Here’s the tough part – especially for me – a boomer / Gen X’er.  Try to provide specific examples of what you expect.  Many Millennials lack real world work experience. They may have traveled the world but many graduate college with little or no real work experience.  Think of it this way, if they’ve never held a job how can we expect them to know what “business casual”, or “professional phone demeanor” means?  Older generations were raised to be independent.  We don’t require a whole lot of feedback.  In fact – many of us learned on the job that it was better if our boss was not communicating with us.  Our generations tends to interact with our superiors (and there’s a word a Millennials will never understand – “superior” – no one is superior to them) when there are problems.  Millennials – here we go again – have been told how wonderful they are – they require A LOT of positive feedback.  To Millennials if their boss isn’t talking to them – that means they’re in trouble.

As the number of Millennials in the workforce continues to grow there will remain challenges in communication and interaction.  The more we try to understand each other – the more effectively we can work together.

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