Millenials blog 1

Why Ask Y?

Companies need Millennials. They need to figure out how to attract them, and more importantly, how to hang onto them. If you think your organization doesn’t need to worry about recruiting and retaining the youngest generation of workers (those born between 1977 and 1997), you’re already behind.

The Millennial generation, also referred to as Gen Y, Echo Boomers, Net Generation, Digital Natives, the Boomerang Generation, the Peter Pan Generation, and in a variety of less complimentary terms, has gotten a bad rap. Gen Y is not an entitled bunch of brats coddled by indulgent Baby Boomer parents— that’s a ridiculous generalization that’s just plain wrong. Sure, some of them were raised to believe they’re special snowflakes who deserve a trophy just for showing up, but what generation doesn’t have a certain percentage of those? But Gen Y does require some consideration, and I’ll tell you why: because they are going to save our collective butts.

Gen Y is the engine driving innovation in companies now and into the future. Innovation means a healthy bottom line and jobs. Here’s what Gen Y brings to the table: curiosity, willingness to take risks, creativity, technological savvy, and entrepreneurial spirit. All good stuff, right? We want that, we need more of that in our companies, right? Here’s what they need: development, development, development. And that starts with recognition—not to be confused with a trophy. It means we truly need to see Gen Y employees. Pay attention, get to know them, find out what they’re interested in and figure out ways to connect those interests with what’s going on in your organization.

If Gen Y workers don’t believe they are perceived as employees who can add something and that their bosses’ want their ideas and contributions, they will be out the door. Yes, seeing a clear a path to advancement is important, but more importantly is the sense that their employers see them, value them, are willing to invest in them, and every once in a while give than an opportunity to sit at the grown-up’s table once.

Lorrie Lykins is the co-author of the new ASTD/i4cp partnered report, Leadership Development For Millennials, which is now available at the ASTD store. A white paper that summarizes this report is available to i4cp members here.