Millennial (Generation Y) Subsets – What Makes Them So Different?
By John R. Grubbs,
Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author
Why is this young generation so different? Are there factors in place that separate today’s youth from those in the past? The research reveals two subsets that make this generation different. In fact, this generation is a product of changing family dynamics as well as today’s economic reality. This generation is more a reflection of contemporary society and reflects the values we as parents utilize for decision making. Good or bad, parents must own the reality of the generation we have created.
The first subset that makes the millennial generation different is comprised of young people raised by a single mother who is often working two jobs to make difficult ends meet. While she may love her children more than life itself, if she has no other family, her children are gaining most of their influence from their peers.
These young people do not come to the workplace with the same values and expectations as generations past. They did not get some of the same mechanical aptitudes and often contradict the values of generations past in both attitude and appearance. Employers must really work to give these employees a chance to become successful on the job. Training must be increased significantly to provide the tools to achieve competence in a reasonable amount of time.
The second subset that makes generation “Yers” unique is the presence of so many helicopter parents today. With an average of two children per family, kids are getting significantly more parental attention than generations past. These hyperactive parents protect these children from every challenge in life. In fact, current “over-parental” involvement is not a very positive trend. Research reveals that too much parental involvement in children’s lives can actually result in lower grades and decreased motivation for their kids. The Wall Street Journal says employers are catering to the odd tendency by hosting “Take Your Parents to Work” days and even inviting them to corporate open houses. We must examine what has changed to make this generation so different by looking at it from their perspective.
Employers are being tested like never before in the workplace. These children have become workers that feel entitled and bring very high expectations as well as demands to the workplace. Older methods of supervision (fear and intimidation) will not work with this generation. Known as “vapors” they will simply disappear when threatened by a superior. Amazingly, to avoid conflict a significant percentage will not even return to pick up remaining pay.
There is a population of millennials that break the mold. They are somewhere in the middle and do have the right balance of nature and nurture to work in any organization. The challenge is that they know their value. The best organizations will be competing vigorously for these “few in the middle” by making attraction and retention the two most important topics in the corporate board room. They key to success is the development of the organizational leadership teams so they offer the proportional balance of information, direction, education, and encouragement.
Gone are the prehistoric supervisory methodologies of the past. In fact, today’s workforce is different from any other and if we try to manage them like generations of the past, we will struggle for success. Supervisors must be more sensitive to each individual and understand that work is not the epicenter of their lives. It will take a skilled management team to improve on this generation’s average tenure on the job of sixteen to eighteen months. Training supervisors and managers moving forward will create a competitive advantage to survive the war for talent that is now upon us.