Get to Know Generation Y to Get the Most Out of your Future Workforce

Julie Checknita, Employer Services | July-13-11


Gen Y


Over the years, there has been much discussion regarding generational differences in the workplace, specifically around understanding and motivating these different generations. In the recent few years, additional emphasis has been placed on “Generation Y”. Although the dates vary, Generation Y’ers can be defined as those born between 1979 and 1995. Also called millennials, this group grew up influenced by the globalization of economies and cultures, the advancements of communication technology and by the rapid spread of information via the Internet.

As the baby boomers head to retirement, millions of vacancies will be left for this group of Gen ‘Yers to fill.  According to a report published by the Conference Board of Canada, “By 2015, there will not be enough qualified people in Canada to fill the jobs available.” As a result of this, “Employers will become locked in a war for employees as they struggle to hire and retain qualified workers.”  ECO Canada found that Canada’s environmental sector is facing a greater threat of labour shortages due to the combination of an aging workforce and a demand for employees that is expected to rise by 1.6% annually from 2006 to 2011.

Because of this, it will be imperative that environmental employers get to know the wants and needs of this large and dynamic generation. Hiring, training, engaging and retaining Generation Y will require adjustments that will likely transform current workplace cultures.  In order to strategically align these adjustments with the values of Gen Y’ers, employers must begin by understanding who they really are and what will motivate them to do their best. 

In the following excerpt, Jenny Ho, of International Workplace Consulting outlines a few common Gen Y’er traits and suggests strategies to keep this group of workers engaged:

They Like to Be Challenged: This is one trait that every organization can take advantage of. Gen-Y’s ‘make a difference’ attitude can be best utilized to take the organization’s missions further. At the same time, providing challenging jobs obviously keeps them occupied and engaged. Challenging them is in fact a way to maintain their energy levels and enthusiasm to work in the organization.

They Want to Be Creative: Gen-Y doesn’t believe in following a fixed path; rather, they like to be creative in their own possible ways. In order to engage them in their work profiles, it is a good idea to provide them with freedom to be creative. However, it is important at the same time to keep an eye on the efficacy of their creativity.

They Are Fast Learners: New age employees are not just creative, but fast learners as well. They admire the company of experienced and senior employees of the organization and want to extend their knowledge through various ways. They can be provided with such opportunities through learning courses so that they are fully engaged in the organization.


They Want to Be Involved: Involvement is one significant way to engage the employees of Gen-Y. They don’t want to be merely called the employees of an organization, but want to learn about the complete setup and working style of the organization. One good idea is to let them attend the board meetings in turns. Another good idea is to ask for their reviews about different projects the organization is willing to take up.

They Are Technology Savvy: Gen-Y makes the most efficient use of the technology that ultimately leads to the growth of the organization as a whole. There are many companies who have allowed their new age employees to access Twitter and Facebook accounts and take the company’s messages to people. This helps in fulfilling another passion of new age employees – the passion to interact. This is also one good way to keep them engaged within the set dimensions.

They Love to Be Rewarded: Gen-Y employees love to be rewarded through appreciation rather than just money. At the same time, these employees are open to constructive feedback, which is no less than a reward for them. Rewarding them this way helps them grow and encourages them to get fully engaged in the organization. Apart from being efficient, the new age employees are innovative and adaptive to the best of their capabilities. It is more in the hands of an organization to ensure that it keeps its Gen-Y employees engaged to gain their loyalty and to make the most of their talents.

What do you think? Do you notice a significant difference amongst generations in the workplace? What are you doing to attract, motivate and retain this generation?   We would love to hear from you!