As the working industry constantly changes, managerial staff have to adapt to a new working methods and employees with different working attributes. Generation Y workers are known for their hard work and productivity in the workplace although more often than not are harder to work with when older staff members are involved, although can easily adapt to new workplaces and rules in more or less complex work environments, and often believe they can do anything (Martin, cited in Eisner 2005). This essay will explore why managers may need to pay more attention to these Generation Y workers and how they could promote learning amongst these staff.
Generation Y is described as those born between 1980 and 2000, a new generation of workers exposed to a slowing down labour driven society which is now being overruled by technology and social media and those who like to stay away from rule makers and make their own future. This new generation of workers tend to balance work and their social lives well and is known for having an energetic and idea driven life, often starting new businesses or joining start-ups often working with other Generation Y’s. These workers have a set of attributes that they are most known for, these included: having high expectations of self, as they aim to work more efficiently and better than their co-workers, they also have high expectations of their employers, as they require fair and direct managers who are engaged in their development as employees, they also seek ongoing learning, looking for challenges and seeing their co-workers as sources of information that they can learn from and finally are known to be goal-orientated, as they want small tasks to focus on and complete (Robbins, Bergman and Coulter, 2018).
According to Solnet, Kralj & Kandampully (2012), Generation Y employees crave perks, or rewards when completing certain goals or tasks, this can influence most employees to work harder and even challenge their peers to do so as well, ultimately creating a competitive but strong workforce. This supports one of their well-known attributes of being goal orientated and their high expectations of employers. Managers can incorporate small gifts or rewards like allowances, pay rises or even longer break times to help influence these workers into working even harder in their future projects. A case study completed by Solnet, Kralj & Kandampully (2012) demonstrates that Generation Y employees ‘place a great value on friendships, co-worker relationships and trust’. Managers should pay attention to this information as Generation Y workers like to socialise with their co-workers to gain information and learn new techniques that they can incorporate into their projects. As this might work for most Generation Y workers, Eisner (2005) suggests that managers should tailor to each generations needs and should try to incorporate certain methods to get different generations to work with each other in an efficient and productive way with minimal conflict. Presenting feedback is very important to these Generation Y workers, as it should be provided with sensitivity to reduce conflict, although can be provided while also encouraging the fact that they are important to the organisations success which can provide a sense of self achievement (Kogan, cited in Eisner 2005).
Policies can be put in place to control co-worker social connections to help break down the barrier between generations that may cause conflicts. According to Miller et al. (2013), policies are most likely to be interpreted in different ways by the different generations, so managers should be the regulator in terms of finding the right way in interpreting these messages. Policies that would be most important are age and race discriminative polices as each generation may have different views on certain age, race and ethnicity groups, for example; Generation Y members often have less of an opinion on race, but have more of an opinion on age, as technology continues to develop, they might have the upper hand in compression to the older generations.
Managers are faced with the challenge of conforming to the lifestyle of the Generation Y workers, their appearance, technological skills and ability to follow instructions (Robbins, Bergman and Coulter, 2018). Depending on the form of work being completed within the environment, most appearance styles aren’t a problem for the range of generations until you reach Generation Y – a generation seen in more of casual wear than professional when needed. Along with this problem of styling, technological awareness is not something most Generation Y members aren’t fluent in, from safety to the ability to see what is and what is not appropriate to post online in and about the workplace. Most mangers look at the managerial tool of shaping behaviour to solve similar problems throughout the workplace and often succeed in removing the problem.
Shaping behaviour is essential to increasing the productivity of workers to secure the stability and increase of value of an organisation. There are two ways to shape behaviour, these are positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement occurs when the addition of a pleasant motivation is provided to the employee’s, in this case, the worker is rewarded in the event of a completed task to help motivate and ensure a continued positive behaviour throughout the workplace and throughout the next projects / tasks completed by these workers. This would be a great idea for managers to enforce new rules or the development of skills within the Generation Y work crew as they strive for personal development and achievement. Negative reinforcement occurs when managers remove a work limiting item, for example, if employees complete a task they have the option to remove something from the workplace that may reduce their working times like the distraction of TV or loud music within the workplace (Robbins, Bergman and Coulter, 2018).
According to Robbins, Bergman and Coulter (2018), punishment more often than not eliminates the undesirable behaviour of workers, for example, the suspension of an employee’s pay or restrict break times due to improper actions within the work place, could force the workers to change their behaviour resulting in improvement. Although if this process does not seem to work for managers, they could eliminate any form of reinforcement that is allowing the unwanted behaviour in the workplace to continue, although this could cause conflict and is recommended by Miller et al. (2013) that it should be slowly removed from the workplace to allow the employees to adapt.
As managers constantly pay particular attention to the special working attributes to the Generation Y workers, they must provide behavioural reinforcement to enforce a productive working environment. Generation Y workers can often be influenced with forms of given rewards / achievement recognition, although the implementation of managerial behavioural shaping tools may allow these workplaces to thrive in both their social and work effectiveness.
Eisner, S.P. 2005, "Managing Generation Y", S.A.M.Advanced Management Journal, vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 4-15.
Miller, M.B., Hodge, K.H., Brandt, A. & Schneider, E.A. 2013, "The Young and the Restless: Gen Y'ers in the Workplace! Are You Prepared?", FDCC Quarterly, vol. 63, no. 3, pp. 226-250.
Robbins, S., Bergman, R. and Coulter, M. (2018). Management. Melbourne: Pearsons Australia.
Solnet, D, Kralj, A & Kandampully, J 2012, "Generation Y Employees: An Examination of Work Attitude Differences", Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 36-49.
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