What We Can Learn From GenY – How to Work

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My generation (the old people) and Generation Y (the young people) approach work very differently. For older generations, work often defines us, gives us confidence, creates our identity, and gives us purpose. These are not bad things. In fact, hard work and loyalty to a company and profession are great qualities. But all too often, work has been prioritized over family taking not only our time but our hearts.

Generation Y has said “no more” to this and wants their job to be just that – a job. Many fault young adults for this and claim they have a poor work ethic or no sense of responsibility, and this is true for many younger people. However, this is often a false judgment based on the fact that many young people just don’t want work to be their entire life.  Another false assumption is that GenY doesn’t work hard; the truth much of the time is they just work differently than other generations. They have the advantage of knowing and using technology to their advantage which allows young people to work smarter and more efficiently. Research takes so much less time with the internet while Skype and video conferencing have eliminated a lot of travel. Work just looks different in today’s society.

So what can we learn from GenY about work? The first thing that I can take away from them is that my job does should not be my life. Too many times work has taken too much time from my family, and I love that GenY workers are saying “no” to more responsibility and promotions in order to prioritize families. I love this! You will often hear me at work say to younger teachers, “Give everything you have from 8 – 4. Show up, do your job, and do it well. Work hard while you’re here and don’t waste time. Then go home, be with your family, and don’t take work with you.” We should not be apologizing for being family oriented, and I have no doubt that people with good family lives are better employees.

Another thing we can learn from GenY is to use technology to help us work smarter. This means going out of our comfort zone and learning how to use gadgets, apps, and technology tools that we have no idea how they work. One of the best things we can do is ask a young person at work to share their best technology tip – and then use it.

What is one thing you can learn from young employees?

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