Recently I had the privilege of spending a good deal of time with several generations of my family. We all hadn’t seen in each other in years and so we spent a lot of time asking the usual “What’s going on in your life?” questions. Something that really struck me during all of this was the relationship that my generation (Gen Y, often referred to as Millennial’s) and my parents’ generation (Baby Boomers) had towards their work.
The Baby Boomers looked at work as something they must do to survive and while many that I spoke to enjoyed their jobs, they had no sense of entitlement that loving what you do should be a job requirement.The Millennials were the complete opposite. They spoke about their work from an emotional point of view and that they expect not to have jobs but careers. They expect to be emotionally fulfilled and if their needs aren’t being met they have no issue with leaving a company and finding a career that will.
More and more I see my generation as an incredibly emotional generation. We are willing to delay having children and buying a home, even often taking the not as dramatic as it used to be step, and moving back in with mom and dad to find a career that we love.
These two opposing points of view made me think about how a multi-generational work environment will shift now that Gen Y moves into leadership roles. Here is how I see my generation having an impact on the culture of the workforce and what you as a company can do to retain your top Gen Y employees.
Blame it on Facebook, but Gen Y is used to being constantly stimulated by other people; we love it so much we managed to not spend our time developing technology so we can live on Mars or build a flying car, but instead we have created endless amounts of social networking sites that connect us across space and time. This means that as a company you have to be willing to embrace the need and want of this generation to connect. A company picnic once a year will no longer do.
I can remember very few times in my education career, including college, where I did a large project on my own. From an early age my generation was taught there is no “I” in “Team” and this mentality is evident in what we desire in a workplace. At Fierce our Team Model focuses around a Beach Ball idea, where everyone has a stripe and the collective owns the whole truth, this sense of community elevates the everyday so that you feel like you’re working toward a larger picture. Be prepared for a lot more team meetings.
Be wary of pitting fellow Millennials against each other, a cut throat generation we are not. Maybe it’s because we all got a trophy at the end of year ceremony or that some sports didn't even keep score for fear of making people feel bad about themselves, but I would say on the whole, Generation Y is competitive with ourselves, not each other. We’re hungry to prove who we are, but our sense of entitlement also applies to our peers and we believe we’re all in need of recognition. As a company I would expect to see not employee of the month but department!