There's been a lot written about the Gen Y workforce. I won't bore you with all of the characterizations. Let us agree that there may be a "failure to launch" among them due, in no small part, to the style of parenting that was en vogue at the time of their rearing.

Nonetheless, these "problem children" are entering the workforce and causing a bit of a commotion. They just don't seem to assimilate in the ways that previous generations did. But, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Indeed, it may be wise to make some small adjustments in the way we run our businesses in order to accommodate the Gen Y worker. After all, this generation has some valuable things to contribute including a great understanding of the next generation of consumer--a perspective that is wise to leverage.

That said, here are some ideas for organizational change that can aid in integrating Gen Y into the workplace and improve the ways in which businesses compete, including:

  1. Go Flat--titles garner less respect among this generation than any other. But, collaboration and direct communication is very important. After all, they've been micro-managed by doting parents from the cradle. So, creating flatter, team-based organization structures will go a long way to better assimilating the newest worker into your workplace;
  2. Be Social--The Gen Y worker needs to "stay connected." Therefore, it's wise to weave instant messaging, social media, and the like, into the communication mechanisms of the business. A good idea, given the fact that your next generation of customer also expects to use social channels to interact with you.
  3. Run Free - Millennials want to be free agents. They get bored and thirst for change. So, steps should be taken today to leverage this emerging free agent society--enabling your business to readily harness desired results from a more transient workforce;
  4. Manage From Afar--Location independence is already becoming an important part of business. Plans to establish remote work locations that can be staffed on-demand by a team assembled of Gen Y free agents will likely be part of the near-future business landscape. So, act on it, now, and begin to work out the kinks.
  5. Get Hip--Gen Y workers want more "tailor-able" and enhanced "lifestyle" benefits as a means of maintaining balance in their lives. We are already seeing many businesses offer broader benefit packages that include concierge services, childcare and eldercare offerings. This trend will surely continue as older staff appear to prefer these types of benefits, as well.
  6. Have Fun--It is clear that Gen Y expects to have fun at work. So, why not encourage it. Light-heartedness and laughter does a soul good and a sense of humor can go a long way in improving morale and enhancing productivity within the workplace.

At first glance, these types of changes may seem a bit radical to an experienced and more cynical eye. But, when considered in light of the changes already underway in many organizations, these ideas are just thoughtful extensions of where American business is heading in the early 21st Century. So, embrace Gen Y, they are our future!

Published on: Jan 5, 2015
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