It can be argued that since the dawn of time, the older generation has struggled to understand, work with and communicate with the youth of their day. Differences among generations is hardly a new concept, however it does seem the conversation about Generation Y, or Gen-Y (21–34 year olds), entering the workforce is especially apocalyptic. The truth is, conflict between generations in the workforce is nothing new; the difference is the rapid change in the world and the fact Gen-Y will be 43 percent of the workforce by 2020.
Gen-Y taking over the workforce is not the end of the world as we know it. Here are three Gen-Y myths, the real issue and tips for to successfully navigate:
Myth #1: They won’t talk on the phone.
True, Gen-Y members aren’t big phone talkers. With IM, text and social media they just haven’t needed to. However, while they may not have natural phone skills, that doesn’t mean they won’t do it.
If a position requires customer service over the phone (say because you have older members), be up front when you are hiring. If the person accepts the job, they are accepting the responsibilities of the position. Provide phone and customer service training when onboarding to set expectations and provide the needed skills for them to be confident in their phone responsibilities. Key points to cover include how to deal with conflict, how to leave a voicemail, proper phone etiquette and tone.
Myth #2: They won’t stay so why bother.
According to a recent article by Sarah Sladek with XYZ University, job hopping is more a shift in workforce needs and values than age or generation and these values and needs are here to stay for Gen-Y and beyond.
The good news is that with understanding, your association can learn to meet those needs and values and fix the turnover problem. Gen-Y members value education and collaboration as well as family and the ability to support themselves financially. Also, Gen-Y members are ascending into leadership positions and will start to implement these values through their leadership. Check out XYZ University’s report Why They Quit to learn more about these shifts and how to deal with them.
Myth #3: All Gen-Y members are the same.
Generational research gives us guidelines to make changes for our Gen-Y staff and members; however, it is important to remember no set of general characteristics will apply to everyone. More than that, the rate of change in technology and society will expound differences between older and younger members within Gen-Y.
Treat your staff and young members as individuals (incidentally a value of Gen-Y) and find solutions that meet individual challenges. Be careful of sweeping changes based only on generation research and conduct your own research to get feedback from your staff and members.