Buff ‘em, Polish ‘em, Shine ‘em – Why Generation Y Are Like Diamonds To Your Business

International Speaker, executive coach, leadership and team development expert Caryn Walsh shared what business leaders need to consider in order to grow their Generation Y people. Ms Walsh was addressing
17 Oct 2016 13:37
Buff ‘em, Polish ‘em, Shine ‘em – Why Generation Y Are Like Diamonds To Your Business
Participants at the Fiji Insitute of Accountants Leaders Conference at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Friday. Photo: VILIMONI VAGANALAU

International Speaker, executive coach, leadership and team development expert Caryn Walsh shared what business leaders need to consider in order to grow their Generation Y people.

Ms Walsh was addressing the morning audience at the Fiji Institute of Accountants (FIA) Leaders conference, held at the Grand Pacific Hotel on Friday.

In an animated and engaging presentation, Ms Walsh focussed her speech on international research, with a specific focus on what particularly Generation Y are looking for in the workplace and ways in which they want to be led.

The highlights included:

Some Interesting facts

• Of all the generations so far, there is a scarcity of Generation Y with an example being the low number of Generation Y engineers in some European countries.  The importance of this is that business need to think about how to engage and retain Generation Y employees, because the war to recruit the most talented and gifted youngsters, to drive Organisations (and nations) forward is here

• The most populated generation is the Baby Boomers

• 72 per cent of Generation Y people surveyed left their last positions because of unsupportive and incompetent Managers. This may indicate that current day business owners not only have to consider how to grow, engage and retain their Gen Y people, but also how to upskill the talents and leadership abilities of Managers leading them.

• Generation Y is pushing back against traditional work barriers in hierarchical Organisations that require slow, staggered career progression.  Generation Y see the opportunities open to them (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is an example) and are taking them.

(Source:  Centre for Creative Leadership)

The generational divide at work

The specific differences at work in Ms Walsh speech focussed on the divide between older generations at work (Baby Boomers in particular) and Generation Y.

Also how one of the challenges of modern day business owners or CEO’s is to provide a working environment that satisfies both the older and more experienced Baby Boomers, whilst at the same time engaging the curious and tech-savvy Generation Y.

She said the challenges for business today include:

Ensuring generations at work are productive and efficient in their roles whilst working side by side is problematic for many CEO’s today.

With different skill-sets, attitudes and experiences, often this diversity creates tension amongst them.

Critical factors that business leaders need to consider include:

• Differing values across Generations at Work:   In her presentation, Ms Walsh recited that international research looks at what generations at work value. For example, Baby Boomers regularly cited they joined their Organisations because of its Vision and Mission, whilst for Generation Y the Vision did not feature in their top ten reasons why outlining why they joined the Company.  Their number one reason was the opportunities and areas of development it promised.

• Old Traditions versus New Ideas:  Older generations do things the way they always have, whilst younger Generations challenge the ‘old order’ often causing conflict and relationship difficulties between the two.

• Hard Work versus Work-Life Balance:   More mature generation value hard work with the rainbow of a lump sum of money (superannuation) promised at the end – to give them the opportunity to travel, relax and enjoy life.  Generation Y, on the other hand, value working hard and travelling regularly and don’t see retirement as something to look forward to in 30 years’ time.  They want to work and travel now and so their priorities are different.

• Attitudes towards each other:  Baby Boomers have been quoted as saying Generation Y are lazy and narcissistic whilst Generation Y apparently accuse the older Generation of being ‘dinosaurs’ and outdated technologically.  The research tells us differently.  Generation Y are equally as productive as their older peers at the same level, although they question ‘why’ more often.  The Baby Boomers surprisingly have a high percentage of people who are technologically savvy and not in the ‘dark ages.’

A key part of the presentation dealt with the attitudes that people have towards each other in the workplace, with a focus on the fact that having a positive attitude is critical to success.

Success in engaging Generation Y is listening to them, showing an interest in what they have to say and providing them training and development opportunities to help them grow in their careers and at work.

4 strategies for leading Generation Y

In her final summary, Ms Walsh talked about key strategies business leaders can use to lead younger generations in the workplace.

1. Focus on Training and Development for Generation Y- The main reason they join a Company today is because of the opportunities it offers for their career advancement. The main reason they leave is this is not present for them

2. Encourage- Generation Y is the most educated generation of all time and so it is critical that they feel they can contribute in meaningful ways.  Putting them on committees with older generations to work on problem solving or adding value to projects are two strategies to engage them.

3. Look at the schedule:  The world has changed and continues to do so.  The old 9 am – 5pm no longer applies in many areas.  Generation Y want to work the hours required of them, but when they want to. Perhaps 3am to 2pm suits this Generation better?

4. Provide mentoring: To help Generation Y grow in vital experience and join the different generations harmoniously, introduce a mentoring program where a more mature staff member mentors the younger Generation Y, at the same time increasing understanding and reciprocity between the two.

Ms Walsh added leading a highly performing organisation is challenging and can be made more difficult when different generations within the workplace don’t relate well.

“To keep Generation Y engaged demands key strategies to ensure they have a focus on career development and progression and in this way, says the research, they are likely to stay.”


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