Changing a Traditionalist Work Culture into one that Attracts Gen Ys

Image: Changing a Traditionalist Work Culture into one that Attracts Gen Ys

Creating a Work Environment that Attracts Gen Ys

About 24% of the Canadian workforce is made up Gen Ys. By 2028 (just 14 years from now) it’s predicted that this cohort will make up 75% of the workforce in Canada. However, many organizations still have work environments and work cultures that are geared towards older employee groups specifically Baby Boomers and Traditionalists. This can cause a problem when trying to recruit and retain  Gen Ys as they won’t be quickly attracted to working for organizations that don’t reflect what they value.

So how can you create a work environment that will attract Gen Ys? Here are a few ways:

Make Work Flexible

Gen Ys are attracted to organizations that give them the flexibility to work on their own terms. They are not used to a traditional 9-to-5 schedule. Members of this cohort have spent years being able to study and research in the middle of the night, bank online whenever they want and shop for groceries at any hour of the day. Not only do they not understand why work has to take place between certain hours, but they also don’t feel that it has to take place in the same location every day.

Technology makes it possible for employees to do their jobs from home, from coffee shops, or on their phones. It makes it easy to collaborate with co-workers in a variety of different ways, including globally.  Gen Ys expect organizations to take advantage of this fact and offer a flexible work environment where they can select how and when work is completed.

Blend Work with Life

Gen Ys don’t want to work in an environment where they work for eight hours and then go home to their “real” lives. For many Gen Ys, their work lives and personal lives blend together. They want to socialize with their co-workers during work hours, go for drinks after work and take part in company events. They want to enjoy their workplace.

At the same time, they want to be able to step out of the office during the day to pick up dry cleaning or run other errands, but will work later at night from home. For Gen Ys, work and life go together. They are attracted to workplace that allow this blended environment to thrive.

Let Them Participate

Younger employees generally have more educational experience than previous generations. In addition, they have been taught their whole lives that they can do anything they want. They have been parented by adults who let them question their roles as ‘authority figures’ and were encouraged to participate in family decisions. All of these factors result in a generation that doesn’t want to work in a “top-down” environment.

Gen Ys want to be able to partake in many different aspects of an organization. They want their voices to be heard. They want to be able to influence the direction of the organization that they work for by providing opinions, ideas and participating in problem solving.

Organizations and managers that encourage collaboration and create an environment that promotes participation from all employees will be more successful at recruiting and retaining Gen Ys.

How to Avoid Offending Other Generations

Your existing employees may not be used to flexible work schedules, blended work-life experiences and collaborative work environments. They may not want these changes or they may resent changing the office culture for new, younger employees.

Managers can reduce these feelings by ensuring that the organization has an open culture that facilitates discussion and sharing. Encouraging employees from all generations to speak their minds and express their concerns can help to alleviate feelings of confusion or resentment.

It is also important to explain to older and more experienced employees how they can help recruit and retain Gen Ys. Mentoring programs, either formal or informal, can be very helpful. Not only do they help new employees understand their role and the organizational culture better, they also demonstrate to experienced employees that their opinions and experience matters to the organization. Encouraging tenured employees to develop relationships with new employees will also help strengthen the organization’s culture and improve the work environment.

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