Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, are those twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings that often baffle us, their Gen Xer and Baby Boomer managers.
Their biggest complaint about us? “YOU DON’T TRUST US.”
Generation Y has not only grown up with technology, they are the in-house experts. We ask them their advice when it comes to smart phones, tablets and computers. They are the first people we call in the office when the printer is down, when email isn’t working or when the computer is not behaving. We have also relied on them to hold our hand as we ride the social media wave.
Ironically, we are frustrated by Generation Y’s dependency on technology. We scoff at all their texting and complain when they take their cell phones to bed with them. We want Generation Y’s expertise when it comes to technology, but we do not want their passion for technology to interfere with life on the job.
I recently spoke to a group of Optometrists. Following my presentation, an optometrist told me “I have solved the problem of my younger staff using technology to do anything that does not pertain to the practice. We blocked Facebook at our office and I am looking for a way to block Twitter too.”
This doctor may have found a short-term solution, but she also found herself a new problem. When office policies forbid Generation Y’s use of technology, the translation in the Gen Yer’s mind is that you do not trust him or her. No Facebook, No Texting, No Twitter translation = No Smiling, No Engagement, and No Trust. From their perspective, we will next be asking them to raise their hand before going to the bathroom!
We trust Gen Y with the care of customers. We trust them to handle sensitive information, to handle money, and to manage our computer systems, but we can’t trust them to self-monitor their own technology activities? This is a disconnect for Generation Y. Forbidding the use of Social Media and cell phones is like forbidding the use of the land-line-telephone because someone made a personal call.
What can you do?
Make your expectations clear. Generation Y will not have a problem following office rules if the rules make sense and are consistent.
Here are some examples of rules pertaining to the use of technology and social media you might try:
– Determine where it is acceptable to use technology for personal use. It may be the break-room, the corridor or anywhere as long as not in view of customers.
– If possible eliminate scheduled break times. Allow Gen Yers to coordinate their own breaks with other members of the office staff. This gives Gen Yers the flexibility to socialize via technology (during their breaks) and communicates to them that you trust their judgment.
– Be clear that while accessing and checking their phones and texting friends is ok, the employee will be held to the same standards as everyone else and their work must be of high quality and completed on time.
– Customer privacy is a paramount concern. Unless given permission, no posting photos of customers or co-workers allowed.
– Do not publish or comment about internal practices or confidential information.
– If you are using your phone/tablet for professional reasons in front of a customer, explain to him or her what you are doing and how the technology pertains to your job.
Throughout the years, Generation Y has gotten a bad rap. We call them spoiled, lazy and unappreciative. There may be a few who are, but they are also imaginative, enthusiastic and our future. Generation Y wants to make a difference in the world. According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, over 50% of Generation Y will take less money or a diminutive title if their work is relevant or serves a greater good. Generation Y will not be able to spark the changes necessary in your business unless you listen to what they have to say and give them room at the table.
Note from Meagan- I am looking for young people (around the age of 30 and under) to interview about their job and work history for an upcoming project. For every interviewee you refer to me, I am offering a copy of my best selling book, Generations Inc and you will be entered into a drawing for a $250 gift card. You and the companies for whom you have worked may be kept as anonymous as you like. If you are interested please contact me @ Meagan@meaganjohnson.com or call me directly @ 602-741-1410.
Adapted with Permission from The Journal of Medical Practice Management Copyright 2014, Greenbranch Publishing, (800) 933-3711; www.mpmnetwork.com.”