Businesses must adapt to GenY needs

A recent Fortune cover story on GenY is fair notice: There are a lot of them and more coming! And many are coming into the world of PR.

A recent Fortune cover story on GenY is fair notice: There are a lot of them and more coming! And many are coming into the world of PR.

GenYers, estimated by recent census data at 70-plus million, aren't just the future of business, they're currently forcing companies to adapt to their unique set of values and priorities.

They are bright, well-educated, full of self-confidence, opinionated, plugged-in, and unwilling to play by yesterday's rules.

Sure, they're occasionally called arrogant, aggressive, and unwilling to work their way up. But they have the potential to transform and enhance most businesses. They just need to be understood, respected, and heard.

Here's what they seem to want:

Intellectual challenges. You won't attract a GenYer, much less retain one, with a job that doesn't offer a serious challenge. They want to learn. Challenge them to deliver. More often than not, they will.

Responsibility and feedback. As the corporate world increasingly depends upon technology and as various functions rely on the Internet to capitalize on the public's trust in "someone like myself," according to Edelman's Trust Barometer, this generation can boost the bottom line.

And don't forget to tell your GenY staffers how they're doing. This generation isn't just looking to get the job done. It's looking to get it done right and faster than you expected. GenYers just need to know you've noticed their work and what you think about it.

Compensation and professional development. The Internet has provided a practically infinite list of benefits to companies, but it has also given job seekers access to more salary information. So when GenYers start talking salary, they already know what they're worth. They simply want to be fairly compensated for the work they're doing (not the job title two steps below their duties) and to be groomed for the future.

World-class professional development is a must to attract and retain the best and the brightest. But there's more. Consider a career-enhancement program in which junior staffers are given value-added tasks that help further the organization's goals and help them grow as professionals.

Schedule flexibility. GenYers do not understand why work done at their desks at 3pm is more valuable than work done at home at 9pm. Do you? Let productivity and performance become your metrics, not in-office hours. Not only will your GenYers be more productive, you'll have a happier office.

Businesses succeed or fail based on their ability to evolve. Corporate America must evolve to meet the GenY-fueled changes to the work force. Stay ahead of the curve, and embrace your GenY staff. They'll make you proud.

Bob Feldman is CEO and managing partner of management consulting firm Feldman & Partners.

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