What Employers Can Learn from Generation Y (or Y-Not)


Have we let our own perceptions blind our discussions when we talk about Generation Y? Or are Gen Y employees, generally those born between 1980 and 2000, actually less involved, more self-absorbed, and perhaps even lazier than previous generations? Mike Domritz, founder of Asking, Inc. and presenter of the recent webinar hosted by ASUGA, Employee Engagement: Getting X-cellence from Gen Y, is a proponent of asking that first question and taking the time to examine how prejudices may be informing our discussion of Gen Y employees.

Harnessing the power of the Gen Y workforce involves moving past perceptions and embracing the generation’s role in inspiring change. 

Domritz claims that Gen Y is changing the workplace with one question: why? Why are we doing it this way? Why are we not doing this more efficiently? What can be read as only self-absorption may be a broader statement from a generation that cares passionately about how they live their life. Perceived apathy in the workplace may be more indicative of the cultural shifts that occurred over the past few decades—outsourcing, massive layoffs—than a generation’s collective personality.

Instead of becoming frustrated, Domritz asks companies to instead consider how they can use these misperceptions to create better environments for all employees. The top five misperceptions of managers when working with Gen Y can easily become potential benefits when we look at the underlying reason for these misperceptions.

1.       Gen Y workers lack work ethic.

A look at the top web companies dispels this myth. Gen Y workers crave meaningfulness, satisfaction, and appreciation for their work. Inspire employees by explaining the importance of their work and emphasizing the parts of the jobs they love most.

2.       Gen Y workers struggle to remain focused.

A different version of focus doesn’t necessarily mean one that is worse. Gen Y-ers are excellent multi-taskers that can operate between different systems to solve problems—an excellent advantage in the contact center environment.

3.       Gen Y workers don’t respect management.

What was once perceived as disrespect—constant questioning of effectiveness and the way things are done—should now be seen as a huge benefit to a company that wants to evolve and change. Further, companies should ask how much respect they’re giving Gen Y workers, and ask what they can do to foster a greater culture of respect.

4.       Gen Y workers aren’t engaged in the workplace.

Creating a sense of community around the workplace can go a long ways towards engaging both Gen Y workers and other employees. What programs, such as social outings or softball leagues, could your company start that would help build community?

5.       Gen Y workers can’t handle criticism.

Rather than avoiding criticism, Gen Y workers actively look for feedback and challenges to their perceptions. Criticism that is aggressive and doesn’t provide some type of feedback is ineffective—for all employees, not just Gen Y employees.

To hear more of Domritz’s thoughts on engaging Gen Y, register and log in at the Aspect Software User Group Association (ASUGA) community website for access to exclusive member content.

Chris O'Brien

2 thoughts on “What Employers Can Learn from Generation Y (or Y-Not)

    1. Hi William, was there something you would have liked to have seen covered on this that we missed?

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