By the year 2020, approximately 50 percent of the US workforce will be composed of Generation Y workers – those born between 1976 and 1991 – and only 25 percent baby boomers. The US workforce will change dramatically in the next eight years. "We are facing a huge generational shift as baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) leave the workforce, and that means we have to rethink our workspace," says Michael O'Neill, senior director of workplace research for Knoll, Inc.
Gen Y’s workplace priorities differ greatly from those of their predecessors. They work best through open, frequent collaboration, they want constant feedback on their performance, and their favorite ways to communicate almost never involve a simple phone call.
With changes to the workforce set to occur in the next decade, it’s important that your company let go of the standard hiring procedures and HR software that’s keeping you in the past; learn to respond and adapt to the needs of this new kind of employee to make the most of what they can offer you.
Utilize New Technology
The members of Gen Y grew up with computers, the internet and cell phones. They are more comfortable with instant messaging and text than phone calls, but this doesn’t have to be a detriment to your company. Take advantage of Gen Y’s preferred means of communication to save your company time and money.
Online chat is free of charge, convenient, and fast. Using an online chat client, your employees can communicate quickly and efficiently, helping them stay connected and on track
According to CNN.com, “Studies have shown that this new generation of employee not only thrives in highly collaborative workplaces, but is now making this a key requirement in selecting where to work. And it is in this area – becoming a highly collaborative workplace– which many organizations have their work cut out for them.”
Facilitate workplace collaboration across the generations by offering your employees more open space with less wall space between coworkers, and think out of the box with your office furniture. Generation Y doesn’t want to work enclosed in a cubicle, but wants to connect and work with team members regularly.
- Consider the overall design of your office. There are a number of workstation options on the market that can create an atmosphere of openness and will promote collaboration.
- Avoid high walls and other design elements that shut your employees off from each other, and look for elements that enable communication and teamwork.
Be Prepared to Communicate
Gen Y is used to frequent, fast, and timely communication. Email, mobile devices and social platforms let them give and receive instant feedback, and they expect their workplace to be just as open in its communication.
- Transparency is key. Your employees need to know what you want done, how you want it done, and how well you think they’re doing it. Make this a part of your everyday communications.
- Gen Y employees aren’t content to wait for a quarterly review for you to tell them how they’re doing. Instead, prepare to give frequent feedback and reviews, and expect your employees to evolve and improve their performance more quickly as a result.
“Gen Y will invent the on-the-spot performance review. The smartest companies will train their managers in giving frequent feedback, and the companies that don't will get a quick reality check when their Gen Y employees demand them.” – EmployeeEvolution.com
The members of Generation Y currently entering the workforce are skilled in an array of technologies and procedures that weren’t available to previous generations of workers. In order to fully take advantage of everything Gen Y has to offer your business, you need to acknowledge that they work differently from your traditional employee.
Promote coworker collaboration and communication with your office design and technology, and give them the feedback they need to help make your business thrive.
Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for Resource Nation. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as recruiting and workplace software.