The ABC’s of Generations

X, Y, and Z (Part 2)

Millennial’s have been one of the most talked about generations in recent history. We know about their job hopping, their phone staring, their participation award mentality, and their helicopter parents. They’ve been talked about in news articles, blog posts, on late night TV, and TED talks.

We have all this knowledge about millennials (Generation Y), but how do we apply it? How do we help their behavior become more structured and how do we communicate with them to create a good work environment? Consider these actionable steps to retain millennial workers long term.

Teach How to Open a Dialogue

We all know what helicopter parenting did to Generation Y. Enraged parents going to schools to yell at teachers about giving their children bad grades–this is the typical story we’ve all heard. Just what impact did this parenting style have on Gen Y? Generation Y generally doesn’t know how to deal with conflict. These kids have no idea how to have the hard conversations with anyone, let alone colleagues and managers. This point ties into other problems we see as well. Let’s run through an example. You just hired an employee and after a couple weeks he or she is gone. You have no idea why. The environment is a good one. You offer training to everyone and you have good benefits. So why did they leave?

Research has shown that Generation Y employees leave because they’re struggling. They just don’t know how to say it. We tell them our door is always open, but, they don’t believe that’s actually the case, and are often too scared to go through that door. The solution? Go to them — don’t wait for them to come to you. It most likely will never happen. Create that dialogue with them before everything becomes too much and they quit. Try creating a mentor system, starting on DAY 1 of their employment. And do everything you can to help them feel like they can open up and discuss their struggles, ideas, and concerns.

Turning Technology Obsession into Opportunity

Many people look at Generation Y with prejudice towards their obsessive technology use. We think they spend too much time on social media and the Internet. But how often do we see this as a strength? An example I like to use is the manufacturing industry.

In more recent years, interest in careers in manufacturing have been on the decline. Older workers viewed technology and automation with fear that that some machine will come along and take their job. But leveraged correctly this tech-focused work environment is exactly what can make manufacturing sexy to the younger generations. They grew up with technology and are fascinated by it. Working with the technology that has been introduced into the manufacturing industry can greatly satisfy the desire, interest, and curiosity Generation Y has had since birth. Applying their desire for such things, can greatly increase hiring and retention as we provide this generation one of the attributes they are looking for in a job. Better yet, you can craft desirable career paths that leverage the use of advanced technology.

Get Them to Hop on Board Your Job

We’ve talked about one of the reasons millennials leave their jobs, but there are other reasons that we need to recognize and discuss.

The perspective of generations change. Gen Y grew up in our more recent highly polarized political environment with heavy rhetoric on corporate greed. They are used to the scandals, the debates, and social commentary about organizations. Due to this rhetoric, Gen Y views corporations as greedy. They think, “all that corporations want is money, and they don’t care about the cost to society.”

Not surprisingly, a sense of purpose is one of the biggest traits a millennial seek in a company. While having a job and financial stability is seen as positive, job creation is not viewed as sufficient social conscience by Gen Y. Corporations they respect demonstrate their social conscience by giving time, not just money.

If you want to make a millennial feel good about and be dedicated to working with your company, focus on more outward displays of social responsibility. A company that simply donates money is seen as stingy, corrupt, and as doing the bare minimum to avoid a PR issue. The companies that have been doing the best with this generation include service opportunities for their employees. Food lines, service projects for the local community, or even building relief kits for recent disaster victims are all ideas that you can use to fill Gen Y with more purpose and integrate them more fully into your company.


To wrap up, lets go over the action points we can use to further our Gen Y relationships.

  1. Go to them; don’t wait for them to come to you. Create a dialogue from DAY 1.
  2. Leverage their love for a tech-focused work environment.
  3. Create a corporate environment of social responsibility. Make sure its visible to the employees and that they have the opportunity to participate.

These 3 principles can greatly influence your success in retaining Generation Y employees. All our situations are different — but these principles span across industries

If you want more information on increasing company collaboration or applying Value Management, Click here to schedule a time to talk to one of our specialists.

Quote of the Day:

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

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