Gen Y In The Workplace

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16-08-2014

4 min read

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There has been much focus on Gen-Ys recently. They have been generally labelled as unproductive at work, too demanding, and lazy. What is your take on the Gen-Y of Malaysia, and what advice would you give them?

Lily Lau

CEO – Culture Dynamics DCI (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd
Trainer, speaker, facilitator, consultant

Typically, these are common complaints in many organisations regarding Gen-Y. Senior management and bosses often find them not as productive as others, and some do not meet their expectations.

Why are Gen-Y’s so different? Why are they getting so much attention?

I remember when I started work as a junior during my time. I had my own expectations and hope. I wanted to prove my capability and be successful.

I liked it when I was praised for doing well. I learnt when I was corrected for making mistakes.

Thankfully, I have never made serious mistakes; only those that were big enough to nurture and strengthen my character.

I don’t think I was much different then compared to the Gen-Y’s now. However, why are they labelled in such a way, and why do they need to be treated differently?

Looking back, I believe all generations have the same vital instinct. All humans want to be successful.

It is how each generation displays their instinct that is different, and it is something that can be seen through time.

As values evolve due to varied upbringing, education and technology, the expectation of how things are evaluated are not the same anymore.

Let’s take success and how it is measured in our Malaysian society. Twenty years ago, a successful person would have wanted to have his/her office to be well-furnished, with trophies and certificates displayed on a shelf, a library of books, and a cabinet of files arranged neatly.

Our Gen-Y will probably despise this fashion as their image of success may instead be someone who is able to dress casually to work, not confined to staying at the office, and has the flexibility to work anytime and anywhere.

They may be admired by the latest gadgets they carry and by their posts on social media.

In brief, the values of each generation are different and cannot be compared. The characteristics and personality traits of the majority of Gen-Y’s are due to the Baby Boomers and Gen-X parents who just wanted to give the best to their children.

The parents “taught” them to be expressive, and may have over-protected them in their formative years. Some may have even crafted their children’s educational path.

If the Baby Boomers and Gen-X managers are murmuring, I would suggest that they also reflect the environment where their children were brought up in.

My advice to the Gen-Y’s is that there are no short-cuts to success. Knowledge is undoubtedly easy to access.

However, it is experience that cannot be bought. The greatest inheritance from your predecessors would be their advice.

Take it, do it and apply it in our current tech-savvy times to find your own path of success. You are as smart, if not smarter, and more capable. I believe in you, Gen-Ys!

Suriahni Abdul Hamid

HR advisor for Industry Partnerships division
TalentCorp

The topic of Gen-Y has been on a hike for a few years. A lot has been said and written about them – their attributes, the positives, and the challenges that Gen-Y has posed to organisations.

The question is, now that we have a much better understanding of their traits, what can organisations do to leverage on them and maximise productivity?

Let me touch on a couple of areas where organisations can achieve this. I recall a time when I was working with organisations.

Because nearly half of their employees were Gen-Y workers, we had to pay more attention to employee engagement for those organisations.

One thing that we realised was that when we start to involve them in initiatives that demand their thoughts and creativity in providing solutions to business issues, they were geared to give their best.

We gave them the space to explore and experiment new ideas on how we can do better in our business.

We created an environment where they could speak their mind, pull resources together and have no fear of making mistakes (though of course not making the same mistake twice).

Another realisation that we had was on how important feedback is to them. The Gen-Y’s appreciated knowing how they did, and how their involvement impacted their roles and the organisation.

They also wanted to know how these translated to their rewards and recognition of their contribution.

Thus, we created various platforms that enabled them to know how much the organisations valued their contribution.

Feedback was given at every possible junction, e.g. after a presentation, during project implementations, after organisation quarterly results, etc.

It was also important to note that their contributions should be linked to rewards and recognition.

Moreover, they enjoy getting their rewards and recognition throughout the year, and not only at the year end. These platforms fuel their motivations to achieve even more.

I hope by now you have some ideas on how organisations can leverage on their traits to drive the growth of the business.

What we experienced when we applied these ‘formulas’ was a good traction of enthusiasm and involvement from them.

The feedback that we got from them on an employee engagement survey also indicated to us that we should continue with the environment that we had, and allow them to be part of driving business initiatives. Gen-Y can bring much more positivity to organisations.

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