Bringing The Best Out Of Your Gen Y Workers

Many employers struggle with Gen Ys’ sense of entitlement. But when managed well, they can be a great asset to move your company forward. The trick is to hit the right buttons so that they’ll put their heart into the work, and drive themselves for the company’s vision. Here are some tips on how you can get the best out of your Gen Ys.

1. Give Your Gen Ys A Big Enough Vision To Work Towards

In a 2014 survey by Bentley University, almost two-thirds (67%) of Millennials said that their ultimate career goal is to start their own business, even in today’s unstable economy, and a mere 13% said that climbing the corporate ladder was an attractive career option to them.

Unlike their predecessors, Gen Ys, or Millennials, have very different motivations for working.
Stability and security is not the main concern for these young workers – but rather, it is having the flexibility and ability to combine their creative talent with their work lives.

Seeing the world as brimming with potential, Gen Ys seek for a purpose in their work, and hence are always asking “Why?” – not to undermine established authority, but because they want to understand how their careers can make a difference in the world.

This is where employers can engage Gen Ys – by spending time to align the company’s WHY (read: vision) to their desire to impact the world.

In Primed To Perform by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, ‘purpose’ is a great motivating factor. When people are working for ‘purpose’, they’ll motivate themselves because the outcome of their work serves a purpose, and that purpose drives them.

As employers, give your Gen Ys a big enough vision to work towards, and then design opportunities that allows them to make that kind of impact without sacrificing the company’s goals. You’ll be surprised at how far they drive themselves.

2. Set scary but clear goals.

Big visions require scary, lofty goals. If they’re visionary enough, you’ll command your Gen Ys’ attention.

But it’s not just about the size of the goals; it must be clear and specific enough that your Gen Ys know how close they are to achieving them, and what needs to be done to make it happen. Tie specific, tactical tasks they need to do to an overarching, noble mission, and watch them take on the most difficult challenges with determination and persistence.

3. Allow failure but hold them accountable.

At first, Gen Ys may think that the head knowledge they’ve gained in school is enough, but as they go along, they’ll soon realize what they lack is experience.

Give them space to make mistakes, but hold them accountable. When you hold them big, they’ll rise to the occasion and give their best.

4. Delegate responsibility but reward initiative.

Many employers lament that today’s fresh grads are “spoon-fed”. That’s because they have been trained in school and university to follow clear instructions, they may not always know how to take more initiative – but that doesn’t mean they are unwilling to.

Here’s how you can train them: Tell them what you expect, and when they demonstrate initiative without being asked, praise them for having initiative. By doing so, you send two clear messages to the Gen Ys in your organization:

  1. You trust them.
  2. Initiative is encouraged.


With that kind of positive reinforcement, they’ll reward your trust with drive and ownership.

5. Allow your Gen Ys to design their work-life schedules

Gen Ys value work-lifestyle fit. By allowing them to design their work-life schedules to accommodate their personal priorities, you’re giving them the other margin that the previous generation needed less of.

When Gen Ys complain that there isn’t work-life balance, it simply means they have been unable to spend time on the things that is important to them. That’s when they burnout and leave the organization.

To prevent that, spend time understanding what’s important to them, allow them to design their work-life schedules, while reminding them of the ‘purpose’ of the company. This will help them know that you value their contributions towards the bigger picture, while also showing them you will be there to support them, you can tap into the full potential of your Gen Y workers.

There is a lot that the Gen Ys can bring to the table; unlocking that potential is the challenge. Just like the old saying – different folks, different strokes – the list above is what you can deploy to get the best out of your Gen Ys.

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