- Give them cutting-edge technology.
Generation Y grew up with computers, ipods, and PlayStations and this techno upbringing shapes their work expectations. You can successfully motivate Yers by structuring their work so that it is congruent with their technical prowess. For example, allow them to communicate with customers via instant messaging, provide training on-demand in multi-media formats, and give them Internet access for research and resources.
- Design rewards and incentives with immediate payout.
Yers (and Xers as well) are skeptical of long-term commitments from employers. Many younger workers have seen their parents lose jobs to downsizing and outsourcing and this has led to doubts about their own futures. For any reward to work with a Yer, it has to be very short term. So instead of a 12-month contest with a huge payout, consider a 60-day contest with a moderate payout.
- Keep them in the loop.
Generation Y has grown accustomed to accessing information instantly through such leading edge technologies as Wi-fi, Ti-Vo, Google, and podcasts. They expect to be in the know and in the know immediately. Give them company information through digital channels and also deliver training in high-tech digital mediums.
- Present information/goals into bit-size pieces.
Yers work most productively
When big tasks are broken down into small steps with goals that are realistic. They respond very well to training programs that allow them to pick and choose the subjects that they need most, especially when those subjects are presented in short, high-impact, media rich formats.
- Give them frequent feedback.
Some experts assert that Yers are used to reinforcement at a rate that is 50-100 times greater than Boomers. A lot of Yers grew up spending hundreds of hours each year playing video games and these electronic games provided immediate, clear feedback on their performance. In the workplace Generation Y expects supervisors and managers to provide immediate clear feed back just like a video game.
- Provide flexibility in their work.
Yers grew up in flexible times and as adolescents they had a lot of say over their world. They want say in everything from benefits to scheduling to the option of telecommuting. Generation Y expects work to accommodate their personal and family life.
- Manage by getting involved.
Managing from behind a desk will be most ineffective with Yers. They want to see managers roll up their sleeves up and get in the trenches. One easy way to get involved is to do what Southwest Airlines does. Southwest requests managers to play baggage handler, reservation clerk, or ticket agent once a month. This keeps management in touch with the challenges their people experience everyday.
Myra Golden is an award-winning professional speaker and principal of Myra Golden Seminars, LLC, a customer service training firm serving clients in food and beverage, banking, healthcare, hospitality, and other industries. Her client list includes McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Michelin Tires, Pirelli, and Procter & Gamble, among many others.
For hundreds of ideas for best practices in managing a diverse workforce, visit the training resource portal by going to http://www.totalcustomerservicetraining.com