The voice of Gen Y

This month we are going to be showcasing different generation voices to help better understand them.

With that said, our first to showcase is the Gen Y voice! Disclaimer: This is only an example to illustrate voice and main points of interest.

Imagine the following conversation between Sarah (early 20s – Gen Y) and her boss, Jenny (mid 40s – Gen X).

Sarah: Hey, can we chat? 

Jenny: Sure, no problem. Is everything ok?

Sarah: I’m just not feeling happy or fulfilled at work at the moment <insert emoticon>

Jenny: Wait, what? Is this really a text conversation?

Sarah: I really want to make a difference in my work. I don’t feel like I’m doing that now. 

Sarah: Can we talk about where my position is going & what the next step will be.

Jenny: Can we set up a meeting to discuss?

Sarah: OK, sure. 

In the meeting, Sarah tells Jenny the following:

Sarah: I know this is my first ‘real’/professional job out of uni, but I want to know where this job is going.  For the last 2 years I feel like I have been doing the same thing. How will I take the next step? What external professional development is available to me?

Jenny: As someone new to the industry and the role, the first 2 years are generally focused on on-the-job learning your trade and the business. We invest significant time, internal resources and mentoring during the first 2 years, which we find more beneficial in the first instance.

Sarah: I feel like I am doing the same thing every day seeing appointment after appointment. I want to be more challenged and feel like I am making a bigger difference.

Jenny: OK – thanks so much for sharing this with me. I am definitely happy to work with you on this but currently, I would be keen to get you operating at the same level as some of the other team members first.

Sarah:  I am feeling like the organization is just focused on making money and KPIs rather than the client or team. The constant need to justify time and number of appointments per day is exhausting, and I do not believe is necessary and is just about control.  I would like to know more about where my position fits into the overall company growth plans, what next job I should be looking to do and how can I use more of my creativity?  Also, I would like to talk to you about working 4 days a week so I can also focus on my other passion – photography.

Jenny: The KPIs help us measure our client experience and quality of what we do. However we are certainly happy to take your feedback on board in relation to ensuring that we also incorporate greater celebrations of the outcomes we achieve for our clients rather than only individual  measures. We have our annual career planning/performance development review process coming up, so we will certainly talk about your career plans then. In relation to the PT role, we need to think about how this would work a little more within our business as we don’t currently have the infrastructure set up to accommodate this.

Sarah: OK, thank you. I also wanted to talk to you about taking some leave in June. I really feel like a need a break and would like to take 4 weeks to go to Europe.

Jenny: Sarah, that is 2 weeks away at our busiest time.  Currently you only have 4 days of leave accrued available.

Sarah: My family have booked a holiday and have already booked my ticket.
Does any of this conversation sound familiar for either party?

What We Gen Ys Want

We aren’t afraid of quitting a job. We work to live, not the other way around…so we will not hesitate to make a decision to leave a business if we don’t feel inspired (and…once we have made a decision to leave, we may not give the notice required).

Our drivers are different than other generations. We are more likely to be renting month to month or are still living at home (as opposed to paying off a mortgage), and so our emotional drivers will definitely outweigh our financial obligations.

Here’s what we’re looking for in a position:

  • Challenging, interesting work: Doing the same thing all day, every day without much diversity of tasks will definitely be one of the first issues that will come up to make us want to leave. Number one on the list is challenging, diverse, interesting work. We want to not only feel like what we’re doing is making a difference, but to feel empowered to shape our career path as we go. We will have interests outside of work and may even have a second profession, i.e, may be a therapist for 4 days a week and photographer 1 day a week. Just because we have studied a discipline, doesn’t mean that we may continue in it if we are not passionate about it.
  • Flexible hours: We want a choice of full time or part time (3 or 4 days per week depending on our requirements) or finish early/start late if we have appointments/personal commitments without having to fill out forms/justify our needs. We want to be able to go to a morning or afternoon spin class and meet up with friends for dinner and then finish work later in the evening if we need (although we don’t normally like to take work home). That’s what technology is for, right?
  • Autonomy: Please don’t micromanage us. Give us the work and allow us to figure out the best way to get it done. We just might surprise you and find more efficient ways to complete a task! We don’t like rules, being controlled or having to fill in excessive paperwork/forms.
  • Emotional Well-being: We will take all of our holidays as travelling and time off is important to us and helps us wind down. If we feel we need to take a sick day, we will (different to some other generations).
  • Technology: We want to work with cool technology/platforms and systems that allows us to collaborate, work anywhere and be kept up to date on everything. It would be great if I could have notifications on my phone and be able to check in on my to-do list via an app. The type of technology you use will normally identify how progressive an employer you are.
  • Career Planning: We want to know about where our position could go, what the timeframes and pathway is and what monies go with it. Professional development is important to us so we don’t necessarily only want to talk about this once per year during traditional annual reviews. We may however change our career thoughts multiple times (for example – unlike study law – become lawyer as prior generations), we may follow our profession but if it doesn’t bring us joy or we are not passionate about it, we may either change careers or take on another interest or have a small business on the side to make sure we fill our cup. We won’t just be cogs in the machine.

Stay tuned

Stick around and keep reading each week this month to find out more about working together in this new multigenerational workforce. From Gen Y to the last of the Baby Boomers, we all need to figure out how to better understand each other to work together effectively.