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From an employer’s perspective, the ambitious, technology-savvy, individualistic and head-strong ‘Generation Y’ (born 1980 – 1994) can be intimidating. However, they are likely to be the future of your business, so a well-rounded understanding of their characteristics can help break down the communication barriers and maximise your collaboration.
Often, for ‘Baby Boomers’ (born 1946 – 1964) and ‘Generation Xs’ (born 1965-1979), dealing with the youth of today can throw up a number of problems because of the contrasting values that the different generations have. For example, the older generations tend to hold loyalty, stability and financial reward as the highest of their ideals when it comes to the workplace, whereas Gen Y often rank their lifestyle as a higher priority than their career, seeking a favourable work/life balance. They believe that money is not necessarily the be all and end all of job satisfaction.
With such different mindsets, it’s not surprising that intergenerational working relationships can be a challenge. That is why Youth Connect, a not-for-profit, community focused organisation was hatched. By providing young people with skills, the team aims to support Gen Y in their journey from education to employment, and through forging relationships with members of various industries, the organisation helps employers attract and retain young employees.
Youth Connect chief executive Danny Schwarz says that through mutual understanding and better communication, any differences between the generations will disband.
“I think the key to better intergenerational work relationships centres around each generation being able to learn a bit about each other,” he says.
“For example, a lot of workplaces wouldn’t accept a younger person texting them to let them know they’re going to be late, they would expect them to call. For Gen Y, texting is just part of the air they breathe, the reason they communicate through messages is because that’s how they communicate with everyone – they don’t always necessarily differentiate between generations, and neither do the older generations. That’s often where the challenge arises.
Danny notes that in a plumbing environment, many superiors have completed their trade differently to the modern schooling system, and because of this, they are bound to have an alternative view on how that should continue.
“Gen Y has been educated differently so don’t have the same views. That is not their fault; it is just that the world they have been brought up in is just so different to the world of 20-30 years ago,” he says.
So if the youth of today prioritises their lifestyle over their career, there is inevitably going to be a difficulty providing them with a job prospect that entices them. Danny says that the key is to offer them an opportunity and not just a ‘job’.
“Nowadays the younger generation spend a wealth of time online, so that’s where you’re going to attract them to your company. Try place your ads on online career sites, not in the newspaper.
“When Gen Y is looking for a career, they’re looking for the whole package. It’s no longer just a way of earning money, it has to fit in with their lifestyle and agree with their values. Most importantly, there needs to be room for progression – a way of somebody starting a role and moving into a different one in the future.”
It’s no secret that Gen Y is harder to attract than previous generations; however it can be just as hard to retain them once you
have them under your wing.
Many Baby Boomers might have had one career and a couple of employers through their working life, staying in the same role for a long time, whereas today, the younger generation is likely to have on average up to 29 different jobs in their life, with several complete career shifts along the way.Continued...