Y-Size: Getting Gen Y to Work For You (And Stay a While)



I am always updating my resume. When I look at it, I think, “Wow! Either I have no sense of loyalty to some of these companies, or I am a jack of all trades!”  In fact, I have 2 resumes. One is for teaching and performing dance, while the other is for social media marketing. As a member of Gen Y, I am always looking for new opportunities to do something in the work place that will have an impact—whether it has to do with social media or dance.

I just finished reading Y-Size Your Business: How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business by Jason Ryan Dorsey, better known as the Gen Y guy. I highly recommend this book to managers and executives looking for practical advice on building a cohesive work environment for ALL generations—especially when it comes to Gen Y.

After reading this book, I realized something about Gen Y in the workplace that is valuable to employers:

Millennials have some personality traits that most of our bosses are aware of, but don’t know how to use them to their workplace advantage. (Yeah, neither do we!)

How Gen Y Thinks About Work

We want to have an impact in our workplace. Some of the ways we acknowledge this is by seeing tangible outcomes to our work or influence in the workspace.

We want what we’re passionate about and our job description to align. If we start a new job and these don’t fit together, we may not show up the next day.

We want to have the kind of schedule that gives us some control over how, when, and where we work. Examples: Can I work from home sometimes? Are there times where I will get out of work early on Friday? Can I start work at 10:00 am?

So, when we’re looking for a job, Jason Dorsey sums it up in this way:

1.)    We want an employer that fits our lifestyle

2.)    An employer that fits our personality

3.)    An employer that fits our priorities.

Moment of Truth: I believe that these 3 things are important to Gen Y as a life-time mantra. Whether it’s a job, the friends we choose, where we live, or the associations we might join, they will have to fit into this picture.

How Gen Y Acts At Work

Jason Dorsey gives a list of character traits for Gen Y at work. He notes and this is for you employers:

Each trait of a Gen Y employee can be turned into a workplace advantage if Gen Y is managed properly. 

Below I’ve listed the traits that I felt were most important, and most over-looked:

  • No expectation of LifeTime employment –Reference my comment about my resume above
  • A feeling of entitlement along with big expectations—Thanks to our Boomer parents, this is actually a learned behavior.
  • A new relationship to technology & communication—Tech dependent. My cell phone is an extension of me!
  • Desire to be our boss—Can you say, flexible schedule?
  • A need for ongoing feedback—We just want to know if we’re doing it right
  • A habit of putting our lifestyle way ahead of work—We work to live, not live to work!

Moment of Truth: A deciding factor to take a job has much less to do with money and more often to do with company culture and interactions with potential direct supervisor.

Key to Attracting Gen Y

Employers, executives, and managers:  You must present and position your company or organization to Gen Y in such a way that we can’t say no to you.

Jason Dorsey gives a great list of some ways to attract and engage Gen Y and calls them “Take Action Cues.” (Because if you do this, we’ll have to take action!)

  • Make us feel special—Make it about me
  • Make it feel personal—Remember personality aligns with the job
  • Give us instant gratification—If we applied, let us know you got our application. A short response goes a long way
  • Make it Enteraining—We like competitions and contests
  • Be Authentic—If we’re given an employee number, forget it!
  • Simplicity Rules—Bullet points and numbers!

Breaking Down The Entitlement Syndrome

Most common stereotypes about millennials: Entitlement, narcissistic, spoiled, and non-committal.

Jason Dorsey’s quote about millennials and entitlement, “I know how off-putting Gen Y’s attitude can be, but before we condemn my generation as a bunch of spoiled brats (something that I find personally offensive and plan to tell my mom about) we should consider for a moment that entitlement is 100 percent a learned behavior. You are not born entitled. You have to be raised to be that way.(p.19)

Therefore, we have to un-learn the behavior, or be trained to think and act differently.

Here are 3 big learning style elements to Gen Y that can help you train us:

1.)    Short attention span–reposition tasks as challenges

2.)    Interaction–look for training methods that don’t include power point presentations

3.)    Tangible outcomes – we want to know the purpose for doing something


So, Why Should I Change My Management Style to Engage Gen Y?

Gen Y is defined as anyone born between 1975 and 1995. This generation is bigger than the Baby Boomers, coming in at about 80 million strong. This means that Gen Y is the largest generation entering the workforce. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, US Millennials will out-number ALL other generations by 22 million by 2030. This means that Gen Y is the economic engine of the future. And guess what? We are not the type of employee that is going to just fit into the, “Well that’s the way we’ve always done it here,” work environment. We can be trained yes, but we’re a generation of change. Start Y-Sizing now!

Do you have any recruiting, training, or talent development processes especially designed for Gen Y?  Do you believe you could achieve better results employing Gen Y? (p.53)

Comments 2

  1. Very well written and thought out, Meredith! I love this line: “Employers, executives, and managers: You must present and position your company or organization to Gen Y in such a way that we can’t say no to you.” So true!

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