Three Realities to Know About Generation iY in the Workplace

I just spoke to an executive who hires lots of twenty-somethings in his office. He mentioned a decision he made that might make sense to managers and HR directors. He said, “I no longer hire young people if they’ve never worked a job before. If this is their first job, I move on to the next candidate.”


His remark meant two things. First, he knew that his culture would spoil a young employee (as they are flexible and offer lots of perks), and he wanted them to experience the challenge of a “normal workplace” before working for him. He wanted them to appreciate his healthy and extraordinary work environment.

A second meaning, however, is he’s found that a recent graduate often isn’t ready for a hard work environment. At least most of them are not. College life still isn’t a great place to prepare for the rigors of a real job. He found they are short on attention spans and long on expectations. So, how do we lead them?

Three Things You Need to Know About Them
Almost everything you need to know about hiring and leading Generation iY well can be summarized in three simple categories:

Intrinsic – They want to feel they are growing; they want to do interesting work that matters and to be challenged in their tasks.

Extrinsic – They want work to feel like family and to be social; they want their supervisor to be adaptable with time and to value them and their time.

Altruistic – They want to contribute to their community and to society. They want to feel as though they are making the world a better place through their work.

I believe two truths about employing young adults. First, they will need to make some big adjustments to succeed in the vigorous and competitive marketplace that exists today. Second, I believe we will need to adjust to the new mindset they bring with them into this marketplace.

My advice to graduates: Before you begin your career, you ought to wait tables in a restaurant or work in some service industry. In these environments, we experience the best and worst in customer attitudes and service expectations. They are places where young adults learn to serve others, work hard and do it with a smile. It was the best preparation for me in my career. These contexts also tend to mellow, and even cure, any entitlement attitudes.

My advice to employers: As you work with Generation iY team members, keep the three categories above in mind–and help them see and serve the greater cause.

Managing the Toughest Generation

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Three Realities to Know About Generation iY in the Workplace