Where your experience becomes your business.

The Characteristics of the Gen Y Workforce

The Characteristics of the Gen Y WorkforceI've written a lot about Generation Y because understanding this dynamic group of people is the key to business success in the coming years and decades. As I've mentioned before, the generation is entering a phase in which all of its members have either joined the workforce fully, or they're preparing to join the workforce by attending colleges, universities and trade schools. This generation is unlike the Baby Boomer generation or Gen X, and many people view the differences as negatives. However, when you take a look at the true characteristics of the Gen Y workforce, a different story emerges, and it's a story in which consultants play important roles.

In my last blog post, I discussed the ways in which Generation Y is misunderstood. The conventional wisdom about the generation has created a number of incorrect perceptions, and these perceptions can be poisonous to business. Today, I want to tell you about the positive attributes of Gen Y. These characteristics are often misunderstood by jaded leaders, but a close examination reveals that they are, in fact, traits that any organization should embrace. If you're considering consulting, understanding these attributes will boost your ability to help organizations grow and prepare for the future.

The Reality of the Gen Y Workforce

What is the truth about Gen Y? Here are some of the traits that they bring to the table:

  • Authenticity
    So much modern business communication occurs between the lines these days that it's hard to know what anyone is really thinking or what they really want. Generation Y is not accustomed to playing political workplace games, and its members are not interested in obfuscating their thoughts and feelings just so they won't appear “entitled.” Generally speaking, this generation says what they mean and they mean what they say. They expect the same from their leaders.

  • Real-Time Communication
    Members of Generation Y are not interested in waiting until some arbitrary “appropriate” time to express what they're thinking. They'd prefer to engage in open dialogues with their peers and their leaders. Some members of older generations might bristle at this notion, but real-time communication is something that every member of the workforce can benefit from.

    Generation Y craves real-time feedback, as well, which is often misinterpreted as a constant quest for approval. In fact, they just want to know if they're performing properly; if they're not, they want to make the right adjustments immediately. If they're doing a good job, they want to know why. What's wrong with that? Nothing.

  • A Desire to Do the Right Thing
    This attribute is closely aligned with the others I've mentioned, and it's incredibly important to understand. Members of Generation Y don't want to play games and they aren't interested in wasting anyone's time. They genuinely want to do good work, and they have a strong desire to be led by people who will help them perform to the best of their abilities. That's why managing Gen Y is going to be so crucial to companies that want to succeed in the coming years and decades. Managers can no longer hide in their offices and wait for annual review time to talk to their employees. Thanks to Gen Y, they'll have to truly lead their people and be available for them.

The Characteristics of the Gen Y Workforce Benefit Everyone

Some people might think that I'm suggesting that businesses change so they can cater to a single generation of individuals. The reality is that the changes demanded by Generation Y are changes that Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers have been desiring for decades. People from every generation want strong, inspiring leadership, but they've become so entrenched in the status quo that it's never occurred to them to demand anything different. Generation Y is about to change all of that, and the organizations that rise to the challenge of understanding Gen Y will be the ones that other companies look up to in the coming years.

If you're intrigued by the emergence of Gen Y, and you'd like to help shape the future of business with the Millennials in mind, you can make a difference by entering the field of consulting. The changes that Gen Y will bring are going to be coming more rapidly than many leaders are prepared to handle. However, consultants will be there to ease the transition and help organizations capitalize on the many positive attributes that the Millennials provide. Are you ready to join their ranks?


Are you interested in learning how you can help businesses adapt to the characteristics of the Gen Y workforce? Ex3 Matters has made a number of consulting resources available. Start by reading Buddy Hobart's eBook, “Experience Matters,” which is available at no cost. Then, take a look at the free Ex3 Matters Consulting Guides for even deeper insights.