While Generation Y is sometimes criticized for having a sense of entitlement and a less than stellar work ethic, this generation may bring more to their careers than you think. If you are part of the Baby Boomer generation, you might want to pay attention and take notes. Here are 10 skills that you could learn from Gen Y:
- 1. Multi-tasking. Though you may be irked when you see a Gen Y-er downing her lunch while discussing social media trends via FaceTime[i] on her smartphone and simultaneously tapping away on her iPad, you should admire her ability to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time. As a baby boomer, you could try and do the same for a day. See if you are able to boost productivity and save time.
- 2. Speaking of productivity . . . Gen Y doesn’t seem to experience ‘information overload’ since they don’t appear to feel it. They were typically brought up tapping away on a computer and using the Internet so it’s no big deal for them to crowdsource while making the most of social media sites, too. Combined with multi-tasking and working anywhere—like in coffee shops, home offices, or planes—productivity could make them vital team players.
- 3. Connectivity. Gen Y is connected—whether on LinkedIn, Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter. They often take social media to the next level and make the most of it by networking professionally. For example, they might send an invite to connect on LinkedIn right after introducing themselves to a new employee at a meeting.
- 4. Reaching out. Gen Yers don’t seem to be intimidated when connecting with top executives in their company. While Baby Boomers might see these moves as brazen, Gen Y workers may view it as effective networking which could help their careers down the road.
- 5. Job mobility. Baby Boomers may not feel comfortable with Gen Y and their job hopping. However, Gen Y doesn’t seem to view moving to the next employer negatively. Instead, they recognize that many people could be laid off without any forewarning and they take whatever opportunities present themselves to enhance their career skills.
- 6. Smartphone love. Gen Y apparently loves smartphones. This tool is one which allows them them to multi-task while waiting at the doctor’s office or when they are standing in line to be seated at a restaurant. Multi-tasking may mean increased productivity since Gen Yers don’t seem to mind accessing the Internet at all hours or when they have a few spare minutes.
- 7. Communication. Since Gen Y appears to have grown up on the Internet and is comfortable writing online, their communication skills may be more effective in reaching larger audiences. Baby Boomers could get more involved with online communication by beginning a blog and publishing their articles to their readers. This way, they may gain more practice writing for groups and become more comfortable receiving feedback in the form of comments on the blog site.
- 8. Job resilience. Gen Y often makes the most of entrepreneurship to provide themselves with a job safety net. They might start a new business in their parents’ garages or their childhood bedrooms. They might view their careers as more than just paychecks and, by coming up with Plan Bs, they could be creating safety nets in case they get laid off unexpectedly.
- 9. The environment. Gen Y seems more concerned about the environment. They could find it more important than a Baby Boomer to work in a green setting and in an office that incorporates green energy use.
- 10. Diversity. Gen Y-ers appear to be more comfortable working with other people from different cultures and backgrounds than Baby Boomers. They do not appear as phased by fellow employees or clients with diverse ethnicities.
If you are a Baby Boomer, maybe it’s time to stop and take a hard look at how you could benefit from incorporating some of Gen Y’s helpful work practices into your own career. You may be surprised by positive results.