Thursday, 29 December 2011

Babysitting Your Gen-Y Employees

As a Gen-Y professional in Human Resources, I’m often confronted with a lot of research on how I am supposed to be managed. A lot of this research is not written by Gen-Y researchers, and they make it sound like they’re babysitting. Chances are, if you start “babysitting” your employees, they’re going to hate you…in the face. I wanted to take a couple of minutes to explain what we’re looking for from our perspective.

Employee Recognition: As a Gen-Y, I will go ahead and let you know that most companies are terrible at this. We don’t need a little trophy, certificate or a coffee mug every time we do our job. We do like to be acknowledged for things we do that have a positive impact on the organization, and if we create something impressive, it would be nice to have our names on it. Don’t go overboard. “Hey Scott, thanks for doing that thing I said you had to do in order to keep your job. That was great of you.” This makes us feel more patronized than appreciated.

Feedback: I have been told that I’m a typical Gen-Y because of this one. We’re not asking for you to stand behind us and hold our hands. We don’t need constant supervision, but we are incredibly efficient and we don’t like to waste our time. Spending a week on a course of action that you are eventually going to shut down is not on the top of our to-do list. I just want to know if this is right before I do it 80 more times. Asking for feedback is not a genetic deformity. It means we WANT to do a good job the first time. Go ahead and be happy about that.

Flexible Work Hours: Do you expect your employees to clock out at exactly 5pm regardless of what needs to be done? If you answered yes, then by all means continue what you’re doing. One hour is not long enough to go out and eat lunch at a restaurant and come back. If there’s no operational requirement for me to be in my seat in exactly one hour, perhaps I could make that extra time up at the end of the day. Employees have varying schedules. If you’re trying to attract a super-ambitious employee who is part of an association, is learning a new language and plays a sport, you better be prepared to send some work home with them.

Also, some people are more effective at weird hours of the day. I have an efficiency burst between 10am and 12pm and another one between Midnight and 2am (That’s when blogs get written). Making me plow through a sluggish afternoon instead of letting me take a nap really only hurts you. If you need me to write something by a specific date, why do I have to sit in my office all afternoon to do it? … Oh yeah, and some people have kids or whatever.

Important: Avoid Unnecessary Rules (Like A Dress Code): We need reasons for why things are the way they are. “That’s the way they’ve always been” can’t be one of them. First think about why you have a dress code. Does anyone even see your employees?

“The company would like to project a professional image. Therefore, it is required that all employees dress in business casual attire.”

This is perfectly acceptable…unless one of your Senior Managers routinely shows up in pleated khakis and a tie that looks like he keeps it in his pocket. This no longer says “professional.” If people aren’t going to be required to iron, wash or coordinate their outfits, I should be able to pull off a nice pair of jeans and a dress shirt.

This also includes unnecessary rules regarding internet usage. However, I've already expressed my opinion on this one here:

Practice What You Preach: Culture is a top down thing. We see what you do. Don’t impose rules on your employees you wouldn’t want to impose on yourself. Like most people in the Fredericton region, I have worked in a call center. You are required to be plugged in and taking calls for your full 8 hours. You have breaks that are scheduled for you (normally not at the same time as your friends), and you have 10 minutes per shift of unscheduled breaks (to go do your business). There are operational requirements that merit treating employees like cattle. However, when one of the cattle sees the entire management team out having lunch together at a picnic table at the same time, they can’t help but time them. Commence job apathy and absenteeism.

The “problem” with Gen-Y employees is that we just don’t accept things at face value. “Because I said so” only works on children. If this is going to be your philosophy, be prepared to lower your standards, because the only employees you’ll retain are the ones who can’t function in an environment where they’re treated like adults. 

1 comment:

  1. OK admittedly I'm commenting a couple of years late...but well said Scott! As an HR practitioner who is on the cusp of Gen X and Y I am totally on the same wavelength when I see uninformed or generalized decisions being made about the way new generations work.