Tips For Managing Generation Y

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Unlike their Baby Boomer and Generation X counterparts, individuals born in Generation Y have some fairly lofty expectations when it comes to the workplace. According to Eric Spell, president of AgCareers.com, members of Generation Y — born between 1982 and 1995 — want to achieve plenty of goals with their careers, and not just on the personal level.

“Generation Y workers want to be global collaborators, talking with colleagues around the world and not be confined to a small network of contacts,” says Spell. “They also expect more direct and frequent contact with managers and to co-create and work transversally to solve real business issues. Executing tasks or parts of a system will frustrate them greatly.”

For some employers, just recruiting this crowd could present challenges. According to Mike Gaul, director, Agriculture & Life Sciences Center Services at Iowa State University, the first step is simply showing up with the right people in tow. “For Generation Y, 91% of the interviewees took the actual interview into consideration when considering a job offer,” says Gaul.

Other key considerations included timing and internships. “Eighty-two percent of all on-campus interviews were conducted during the fall semester,” he said. “Of students hired, 44.6% came from employers’ internship programs. Career fairs were ranked as the most effective activity for recruiting interns.”

Once they are on board, employers need to follow three guidelines for keeping Generation Y employees. First off is to be firm, yet flexible with their ideas.

“Generation Y grew up constantly challenging their parents and college professors in more a peer-to-peer relationship than even Generation X did,” says Jason Lehnst, project manager for agriculture for Management Recruiters of Iowa City. “Now they will challenge you, and you need to know that they are not challenging your intelligence, ethics or ability. Maintain your company vision and policies, but be open and approachable to new ideas.”

Second, employers need to embrace technology. This generation grew up using Facebook and Goggle, so these Internet tools can serve as important resources for Generation Y employees.

Finally, Generation Y employees expect to learn something from their bosses. “Generation Y craves a mentor, and will reject a micromanager,” said Lehnst. “You must provide independence and frequent communication to maintain a safe balance.”

One final note on Generation Y employees, added Lehnst – don’t expect them to stick around forever. “Accept that most Generation Y employees will not retire with their current employer,” he said. “Find the best way to utilize that talent while you have it.”

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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