Not everyone gets a trophy

A ROOM of mostly Baby Boomers was told in Gympie on Wednesday night to not expect its Generation Y staff and colleagues to act or think like them.

Communication and leadership specialist Kellie Mills was the keynote speaker at the workforce planning event held at the Gympie Civic Centre.

She said Baby Boomers, aged 48-66, were raised in small, stable and secure homes, were seen and not heard as children, never heard of pedophiles, respected authority, had strong ideals and traditions, were not afraid of terrorists and played outside until it was dark when they were young.

Generation X, aged 32-47, entered the workforce in the latter days of job security and the early days of downsizing so were grateful to have a job; they liked to live in the present and were more focused on achieving a work/life balance, so flexible work hours were a priority.

They were also more independent and less patient.

Generation Y, aged 18-31, was the generation that inspired the book, Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, was tech savvy, optimistic, smart, creative and unafraid to challenge authority and the establishment. Gen Y was good at multi-tasking, changed interests quickly, was "very concerned" with self-image and product brands and was the most diverse generation in history, so did not have the prejudices of older generations but was also not used to having to conform.

The first year of Generation Z, the Cotton Wool Kids, were yet to graduate from high school, Ms Mills said.

"The biggest complaints I get about Generation Y are from Generation X," she said.

Recruiting, retaining and motivating staff from each of the generations had to be approached slightly differently.

Baby Boomers could be cynical and were used to putting in long days and long hours. Many of them had been in the same place of employment for many years and were hanging on for their super payout.

"You need to value their experience in life and work," Ms Mills said. "Offer them respect and recognition when it is due. Be warm and smile and use some of the social graces."

"Gen X prefers to work alone. They don't like meetings for the sake of meetings and they don't like wasting time. Don't try to pull the wool over their eyes. They value the freedom of being able to set their own hours."

Gen Y expects equality and likes to challenge authority, but needs strong leadership. They "demand" a work life balance and like frequent feedback.

"Take the consultative approach. Don't over-promise things in trying to sell them into a position," Ms Mills said.

The event was organised by Gympie Regional Council and Wide Bay TAFE.

Gympie Times

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