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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Four Secrets That Enable Generation iY to Love Their Work

Have you heard the latest Gallup Poll about American’s in the workplace? It’s a little sad to read, but most people just aren’t happy at their job.

Generation iY

Just 30 percent of employees are engaged and inspired at work, according to Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, which surveyed more than 150,000 workers during 2012. The rest…not so much. A little more than half of workers (52 percent) have a perpetual case of the Mondays—they're present, but not particularly excited about their job. The remaining 18 percent are actively disengaged or, as Gallup CEO Jim Clifton put it in the report, "roam the halls spreading discontent." Worse, Gallup reports, those actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $550 billion annually in lost productivity.

For those of us who manage and lead young people from Generation iY (those born since 1990), I think some solutions lie within our reach. Young people don’t necessarily require lots of money; in fact, perks like flexibility and time off speak louder than cash to them. Young adults tend to be happiest when:

1.    They work on something they believe in.

Kids often don’t want a job—they want a cause to invest in. Can you show them how their work is significant and really matters?

2.    They are with people they enjoy.

Kids want to feel like family or friends with those they work alongside. Is there a way you can foster authentic community and still get the job done?

3.    They use their primary gifts and talents.

Kids—and adults for that matter—will like their work better if they are in their strength zone, applying their gifts to projects that count. Do you let them do this?

4.    They can see results.

Kids are used to immediate feedback, from video games to texts from friends. Can you demonstrate any results from the work they’ve done?

This is just a start. What have you noticed that is magnetic with students at work?


Generation iY


Check out "Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future" to learn other ways to engage young employees at work.


  1. charlene.fonseca on July 22, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Just want to say I read these, and thanks for keeping me/us focused on the things that count.

  2. marccorona on July 30, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Finding your strength zone has had a big impact in my life. I spent time trying to be someone that I wasn’t which created confusion and frustration that ultimately lead to unhappiness. As you stated, this holds true for all of us! If more people knew what their strengths were, I think moral and productivity would skyrocket! If only that process were a part of the education system somehow.

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Four Secrets That Enable Generation iY to Love Their Work