This is a guest post by Dr. Jim Anderson, who blogs at The Business of IT.
Just in case you’ve missed it, there is a major change happening in the workplace and it will end up affecting all of us. It turns out that the next generation of workers, Generation Y, is made up of 75 million folks who are between 16-29. Their arrival in the workplace means that all managers need to (1) be aware of it, and (2) start to change the way that they mange. Are you ready?
Many managers tell me that they don’t have time to worry about getting ready to manage Gen-Y’ers. Oh oh – this is no longer an option. In 2007 the Gen-Y crowd accounted for 25% of the work force and their numbers will only grow as the baby boomers start to retire.
Before managers start to despair about having to learn a new language in order to communicate with their staff, everyone needs to understand that Gen-Y brings a lot of benefits to the workplace. Specifically, the Gen-Y crowd comes to the workplace with tech-savvy skills, multitasking skills (hmm, is this good?), and networking skills. What this means is that Gen-Y has the opportunity to introduce real innovation into every workplace.
So what’s a manager to do? In order to both attract and retain the Gen-Y workforce, a manager is going to have to create new training and reward programs. Because of the way they have been raised, constant feedback is something that the Gen-Y worker is constantly looking for.
Motivating Gen-Y employees can be as simple as giving them more control over their jobs. Whereas previous generations of workers (myself included) were more than willing to sell their soul and put the workplace before friends, family, and personal health. Gen-Y workers will not be putting up with any this. Instead they are going to insist on being able to maintain a work/life balance.
Finally, having the ability to make an impact is critical to Gen-Y staff. The Gen-Y team wants to be able to see that their work is changing their world (in a positive way!) This goes hand-in-hand with the Gen-Y employee’s need to be constantly learning new things. If both of these needs can be satisfied at the same time, then a manger has a better chance of holding on to his/her staff.
It won’t be easy to be a manger who is in charge of Gen-Y’ers. However, every generation has had to deal with similar issues. The most important thing to remember is that Gen-Y has already landed in the workplace and so managers have the responsibility to change. The future is looking so bright that we may all have to wear sunglasses…
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Dr. Jim Anderson has spent over 20 years working with a wide variety of IT firms from the very big to the very small. His insights into how to bring the separate worlds of business and IT together offer hope to firms everywhere who are struggling with this challenge. Dr. Anderson offers his insights on how to get these two different groups to work together for the betterment of the firm and its employees.