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Generation Y in the workplace

Published on: 30 Jan 2009
How many Gen Y employees do you employ?

We currently employee 12 Gen Y staff, a mix of contracts administrators, a contracts managers, a couple of foreman and cadets.

What do you look for when you hire Gen Y candidates?

I have the same expectations of my entire staff whether it’s Gen Y or Gen X.

I look for younger guys that have the same work ethic as the older staff and have a bit of street wise about them. They must be a good cultural fit also.

Are they fulfilling your expectations?

A lot of Gen Y employee’s don’t set goals and need to be pushed. The work ethic is different between Gen Y and Gen X workers who get on with the job because they are used to working hard with longer hours.

Gen Y will work longer hours but they need to pushed into doing it. Gen X would easily work a 60 plus hour week and wouldn’t leave until their job was finished, they would work six day weeks because working a Saturday was normal, younger guys will only work the odd Saturday.

Do you find them loyal or do they move around too much?

They definitely move around too much, a lot of the younger guys are short sighted and are only chasing the money that is on offer. I think this current climate will change all that and most of these young guys should change their ideas.

Do they try and progress too quickly?

Yes they do, it is common to see 24 and 25 years olds wondering why they are not already project managers.

A lot of these guys are straight out of University and want to become a project manager immediately.

You would normally spend four to five years as a cadet then move into contracts administration and then with at least 10 years experience under your belt you would become a project manager.

Are they career or money driven?

Both, with money being the most important thing for most.

What sort of positive skills/knowledge/experience can they bring to your company?

The biggest skill they can bring is their use of technology and getting the most out of software and systems.

It comes naturally to a lot of younger employees with most Gen X workers struggling to get the most out of technology.

Are they concerned or worried about their jobs now?

I haven’t had too much feedback from my guys but we do keep them in the loop and updated as much as possible.

Is the volatile nature of the construction industry putting off junior candidates?

I think that in the construction industry we are very fortunate that we can offer very good money to younger guys and probably one of the only sectors that can afford this luxury.

It's up to the young guys how much they want out of it, if they are prepared to work hard and apply themselves then they can find a very rewarding career in construction.

If your company experiences a downturn, is Gen Y the first to go? If so Why?

No not necessarily, it is usually a combination of factors including loyalty and performance. If an employee has shown us over 10 years service which some of them have, and have performed quite well then we are going to be more likely to keep them on.

Patrick Page is the general manager of an Australian firm.

For more on the subject read The importance of Gen Y in the workplace published in Building.