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You might not say it to our face, but I reckon you think we’re lazy, self-obsessed, and lacking in work ethic.  You might not snigger with satisfactory glee, but I bet you believe this global financial crisis is precisely what we need to be put in our place.  And you might not clap your hands ecstatically, but I’m confident that terms like money-hungry and power-seeking have leaked from your lips as Gen Y adjectives.

Well, it’s time to set the record straight.  What we’re hungry for is not cold hard cash, but a stretched mind.  What we’re seeking isn’t power or status, but stuff to add to our resume.  The question becomes:  can you teach us more of what we’re desperate to learn?

A recent study by TMP Worldwide has revealed that almost 75 percent of new graduates say that training and development is the most important factor for them when choosing a new employer.  In fact, 68 percent even say they’d happily accept less money if it meant they’d get more training.

At this point you might wail on about a wimpy budget or tense up over your time restrictions, all the while wondering why it is that your Gen Ys are less loyal and more maladroit.  Here are a few suggestions on how to stimulate Gen Ys without necessarily raiding your petty cash – unless you really want to.

  • Discover where they want to be in a few years’ time and then help them find a mentor – even if it’s someone outside your business.
  • Subscribe to business magazines, pass them round, and discuss the latest developments in team meetings.
  • Send Gen Ys to industry seminars and conferences where they can network, come across new ideas, and then share them with colleagues upon their return.
  • It can be expensive to bring a dedicated trainer into your workplace, but sending your employees on public programs can be cheap and life-changing.  Seriously.
  • If you’ve read an interesting and informative book, whack it on a bookshelf and slowly build a library where the knowledge gets passed around.
  • The best manager is a coaching manager.  Make the giving of positive and constructive feedback a part of your workplace ritual.
  • There is a plethora of inexpensive online learning programs available on the internet that can teach your Gen Ys anything about anything.
  • Most learning these days happens on the job.  Stimulate Gen Ys by involving them in innovative projects and varied experiences.

So really, what this means is that the way to a Gen Y’s heart is… via the brain.  Now it’s your turn.  Do you find it easy to engage your Gen Ys – or is it as painful as appendicitis?  Have any of the above suggestions worked for you in the past – or not?

What do you think?

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James Adonis

James Adonis

James Adonis is a leading expert on employee engagement, the author of ‘Employee Enragement: Why people hate working for you’, and the Managing Director of ‘Team Leaders’ – a company dedicated to developing and recruiting the very best Team Leaders.

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