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How to please the generation who ‘want it all’

Tina Wisener

Tina Wisener, partner at the UK’s largest employment law firm Doyle Clayton, on how to manage your Generation Y staff effectively

In a recent report by employment solicitors Doyle Clayton it was revealed that Generation Y are the most discriminatory generation. The report (following a survey of 1,000 employees across the UK) found that Generation Y employees have the most negative attitude towards older workers, part time workers and flexible workers.

Generation Y are often classed as the ‘want it all’ generation. They have a reputation for wanting the highest salary for the least amount of effort. Generation Y are also often seen as the employees who take every day of their annual leave entitlement and who never stay behind after hours. 

It is understandable that there is a negative perception towards this generation – they are just out of university and are expecting immediate success. From the offset they may appear to be far less committed than other generations – yet is this due to the fact that they have a heightened awareness of their employment rights? 

Generation Y and discrimination in the workplace 

Generation Y are most likely to harbour negative views about the value of older employees. This has potentially significant repercussions. Generation Y may well hold supervisory and junior management roles. As a result, they will often be involved in recruitment processes and appraisals. If their discriminatory views filter through into their decision-making, this could actually mean that an older employee in their 50’s or 60’s, interviewed for a new job by a Generation Y employee, has less chance of getting hired. 

The ‘Generation Y’ effect can have a serious knock on effect when bonuses and promotions are being considered. Managers must be aware of the risk that their older employees might not be treated fairly by Generation Y making bonus decisions in relation to their team. This means that Generation Y could in fact be a big liability to employers, exposing them to costly age discrimination claims. 

Surprisingly, Doyle Clayton’s findings also show that Generation Y harbour the most negative attitudes towards flexible workers. This is somewhat ironic as Generation Y tend to be more informal and less wedded to their careers. They are also at the age when people want to start a family so would really benefit from flexible working. It appears that Generation Y consider that their colleagues’ ability to work flexibly comes at their expense. 

What can managers do to solve the problem of Generation Y? 

Generation Y can create a headache for managers. Not only do they have a different perception of what constitutes discrimination, they are also the ones who are most likely to discriminate against others. 

Managers need to recognise and manage these generational differences and instil equality of opportunity throughout the workplace and working practices. Steps that can be taken to achieve this include: 

• Drawing up an equal opportunities policy and an anti-harassment and bullying policy. 
• Ensure these issues are implemented throughout the business.
• Conducting a regular review of those policies to ensure they are up to date, and address any problems which are occurring. 
• Making all employees aware of the implications if theses policies are not followed. 
• Training all staff about equal opportunities and harassment issues and providing specialised training for those involved in recruitment and promotion decisions. 
• Providing diversity awareness training – which focused on workplace relationship issues such as dignity at work, mutual respect and appreciation of differences as well as similarities. 
• Developing a recruitment and promotion strategy that promotes work place diversity. 
• Encouraging older, more experienced workers to mentor and coach the younger generation, passing on their wealth of knowledge and experience.  As bonds develop between the mentor and mentored, working relationships are likely to be strengthened.  

Leaders in business are the ones who set the tone within the work environment. It is therefore essential that managers exhibit behaviours that demonstrate disapproval of discriminatory treatment.  Equally important is that they demonstrate support for diversity.  

Managers need to embed a culture of equality into their processes and policies. This can be achieved through mechanisms such as training, assessment, mentoring and coaching to help ensure Generation Y appreciate the value of older workers and the numerous business benefits of a flexible workforce. 



    Comments

  • Dan Baird

    Interesting... I wonder whether this is a false perception by an aging population that typically doesn't fully understand the generation before it?

    A thought-provoking article on GenY: You’re Probably Wrong About Millennials


  • Alexis Thompson

    I think Gen Ys can bring a lot of skills to a team so they shouldn't ever be seen as a headache, plus you can't really generalise on a whole demographic of people, as everyone will be different. Work with them rather than against and you'll probably find things will become much easier.

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