April 26, 2012

Mixing and matching the generations in the workforce: What motivates Generation Y?

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“The Children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for adults, and love to talk rather than work or exercise. They no longer rise when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter in front of company, gobble down their food at the table, and intimidate their teachers.”  - SOCRATES (469 -399 B.C.)

So perhaps generational friction in the workplace is not a new phenomenon.  Welcome to the 21st century.  What motivates Generation Y  isn’t the promise of a distant retirement check thirty or forty years after they’ve given all they have to an organization.   The first thing you need to keep in mind is the fundamental idea of ownership.  To give a younger worker a feeling that s(he) is contributing to themselves, as well as the organization’s bottom line.  You do need to invest in their sense of desire to contribute in meaningful ways to institutions that matters.  To them, coming to work is an exercise in mutual benefit.   This was the topic of the April 2012 HUD OCIO Learning Session entitled Generation Y Workforce Motivation” presented by Ian Barford of Surface Warfare at Operational Test and Evaluation Force.  Ian emphasized several key points:

  • People are the lifeblood of any organization, the government is no different.
  • “Generations” develop similar patterns of behavior based on common experiences (caution is given to stereotyping individuals based on generational values and characteristics).
  • Those patterns of behavior are what researchers, supervisors, and human resource professionals seek to understand to develop employee management strategies.
  • The most significant difference Gen Y possesses over preceding generations is the integration of technology within their daily lives.
  • Private industry has taken note of Gen Y’s values/attributes and hired consultants to provide companies with a clear understanding of how they must retain Gen Y.
  • A comprehensive understanding of Gen Y working in the government should promote new guidance which will ensure Gen Y retention.

So for the workplace, the predictions of futurists such as Charles Handy, Alvin Toffler and Tom Peters will probably have been realized when this generation are in full swing in the workplace.  This is an environment where careers are looking more like a portfolio of jobs and constant change is the order of the day.  Flexible working hours and telecommunications will be the norm and not the exception.  Gyms and schools in office grounds, and overnight sleeping quarters and hammocks slung up in the office gardens will become normal office environments.  And satellite offices and the use of wireless technology will further enhance employees’ ability to telecommunicate and be flexible.

Watch the webinar at http://youtu.be/XgkwA9YOrvg

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