I recently attended a workshop on motivating generation Y in the workplace and learnt a few tricks that managers can use to reward and retain Gen Y.

Generation Y are stereotyped as 'rude', 'lacking critical thinking skills', 'commitment-phobic and lazy', having 'unrealistic expectations'* and being 'ungrateful'.  However they are also becoming a major part of our workforce, so we need to understand the generation better and how to get the best out of them.

It is true that Generation Y are more demanding than previous generations, however, the reason for this is because they are conditioned to the technology of the last two decades  - they are "always on" - networking and conversations don't end.  Because technology has evolved so fast around them they are quick to cope with complexity, so require constant new challenges and desire instant gratification.  Generation Y are following dreams in an individual way and challenging their comfort zones.


For the big picture strategies in motivating, rewarding and retaining your Gen Y staff, be direct and ask them what motivates them, how they would like to be rewarded, where they see their career going.  

Don't be afraid - Generation Y is bolder than previous generations and will verbalise what is on their mind.  Have a regular trigger to have these discussions with your staff. Remember:
  • Make it personal "what does success look like for you in 12 months time"
  • Provide feedback and expect it in return
  • Think about their work in context of 'task' not 'time'
  • Emphasise meaning
  • Lead through learning
  • It's not all about money - it's about their personal motivations as well.  Is there something they want to learn from you?  Are the non-remuneration rewards of interest to them, for example, birthday balloons are a common gift in our office, but aren't really suitable for a 21 year old male, so we tweak the gift to suit.
For the day to day management of Gen Y, here are some tips
  • Understand they are likely to have unrealistic expectations of how easy tasks will be, so when giving them tasks ask them for their expectations, e.g.
"what part will you find difficult"  "what part will you find easy"
Evaluate these responses at the end of the task.
  • Use direct language and provide the 'why' and overall context, especially when handing out a menial or boring task eg
"After lunch the storeroom will need to be cleaned out.  I know it won't be the most exciting thing you do today, however we have a load of new stock coming tomorrow and it will be easier for us to process the stock if the room is ready."
  • Establish loyalty through emotions
use verbal contracts "so, if you do this, I will do that"
client contact
  • Don't assume they are all technologically savvy
  • Flatter them, reward them intelligently and feed their entrepreneurism and lives outside of work
  • Teach them - how to work face to face (with customers/clients) how to write, how they make a difference to the team
  • Give feedback, tell them what you will do for them and expect to negotiate

* http://jobmob.co.il/blog/generation-y-stereotypes/
** recruitment coach