Managing Generational Differences at Work

By 2025, Millennials or Generation Y (born between 1977- 2001) will comprise 75% of the working population in this country according to the U.S. Labor of Statistics. A majority of them (56%) will not work at a company that bans social media access and 69% believe that office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis. There is no doubt that they will change how we think about the world of work. Most disturbing is that the average tenure of a Gen Y is 2 years compared to 5 for Gen X and 7 for Baby Boomers. So how else do they differ from Baby Boomers and Gen X employees?

In these 3 ways:

  1. Motivation – They are realists and expect to have many different jobs in their lifetime. So they seek “meaningful work” that engages them mentally and emotionally at each stage of their life. They expect technological and scientific advancements to continue to change their career prospects and don’t try to plan too far into the future.
  2. Attitude – They are outspoken and tend to question the status quo. They have seen corporate downsizing, ethics scandals, globalization, wars and terrorism and think they deserve a better world. They also desire autonomy and respect regardless of their level in an organization.
  3. Rewards – They do not necessarily value work for external rewards but instead want valuable learning experiences that expand and deepen their resumes. Job rotation, job enlargement and job enrichment are much more appealing outcomes. They also enjoy recognition from the boss and seek timely feedback (now not annually). Personal time off, telecommuting and flexible schedules are also desired and valued rewards.