3 Ways to Connect With Gen-Y Workers

Last Updated Apr 29, 2008 5:37 PM EDT

Gen Y Hates AdsGeneration Y workers are slackers... social butterflies... poster children for Facebook, cell phones, IMs, and ADHD. So goes the conventional wisdom from the Baby Boom generation in the workplace.

But according to Bea Fields, author of "Millennial Leaders: Success Stories From Today's Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders," those assumptions are wrong. Instead, she argues, Gen Y employees represent a rich resource for employers wise enough to know how to handle them.

In a recent show on BlogTalkRadio, Fields suggested how employers can combat three common complaints about Gen Y in the workplace.

Complaint: Gen Y workers aren't engaged; they're not working to full capacity. Solution: Realize that they're not writing on their friends' Facebook walls all day to disrespect you; rather, they're not being challenged. Embrace the "knowledge worker" -- a description that fits many Gen Y careerists -- as a top asset for growth and provide appropriate challenges and support. In other words, give them something to do and value their proficiency with the tools for obtaining information.

Complaint: Gen Y workers are restless, always moving from project to project and wanting something different. Solution: Gen Y'ers have been raised on so much stimulation this is simply the way their brains are wired. Take advantage of their willingness to embrace change by cultivating their entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging flexibility and fostering a work-life balance that includes time for community activism and volunteering.

Complaint: Gen Y workers love to job hop, so attrition is always an issue. Solution: They hop when they feel like they've come to a dead end or have no other choice, so allow a Gen Y worker to be engaged in meaningful work. If they believe what they're doing has a higher purpose they'll stick around. Google is one of the top picks for Gen Y workers not because of the perks, says Fields, but because employees know they're doing something to create change and a better world.

(Image by debaird via Flickr, C.C. 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.