How Can I Keep Generation X and Y Employees Happy?

June 22, 2008

Q: Generation X and Y have their own approach to work that includes a task orientation, a focus on results and an eagerness for change. These sound like skills that companies would or should value in employees. Will Gen X and Y workers inherently make good employees?

A: A recent study claims that most Generation X and Y employees will change jobs up to 26 times in their working life! Although I personally find this alarming, there is a way to slow down the unsettling changes, AND help the X’s and Y’s find comfort in your company.

Businesses highly value employees who can "see the big picture," are adaptable, and are enthusiastic about managing change. Gen X and Y, with the same perspectives, do seem like they would make great employees. But why is that?

One aspect of this approach is the pervasive impact of video games. John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas write, in The Gamer Disposition in Harvard Business Review’s Breakthrough Ideas for 2008, that online multiplayer games create the exact skills most desired in today’s knowledge workers. These are:

• They are bottom-line orientation
• They understand the power of diversity
• They thrive on change
• They see learning as fun
• They marinate on the “edge”

Seely and Brown see these individuals as learning (from these complex, adaptive, interactive systems) a range of skills such as flexibility, resourcefulness, meritocracy focus, and innovativeness.

And my two cents include:

• They want growth and they want it now
• They want to feel needed and loved
• If they are not feeling the need and the love they will pick up and move to the next company that promises that
• Most will begin looking elsewhere when they perceive they are in boring roles
• From their background in “games” they are very willing to play one scenario against another to accomplish their mindset

So now what can you as an Employer do if you hire an X or a Y into a sales, management or executive role?

• Begin the process at the interview and acceptance states
• Have a definition of the role, expectations beginning DAY ONE.
• Don’t procrastinate on the two points above, you MUST DO THIS
• Don’t micro-manage
• Have a defined process of growth
• Include them in discussion groups of growth
• Continually challenge them to achieve
• Have a method of feedback from them
• Respect their suggestions by discussing, understanding, evaluating for use
• Did I mention they hate being micro-managed?
• This list could go on to great lengths
• If you need help with these issues company wide, Gman Business Resources is here to help.

P.S. The first half of 2008 is almost over. Have you met your first half goals?

May this week find you with good health, good business and peace.


George F. Mancuso, CPC