Guest post: Hiring Gen X and Gen Y Employees

If you are a business professional in charge of hiring new employees, you should already know about the generation gap. What could you learn about Generation X and Generation Y that might make hiring and managing your employees easier? While there are differences between the generations, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find the right candidate for the job. Here are some things you should know about Gen X and Gen Y when hiring them:

What about the two, newer generations?

Generation X. Employees who fit into this category were born between 1965 and 1977. They survived the bust, graduated from college during the 90’s recession, and entered competitive job markets. Compared with Baby Boomers who believe in working their way up the ladder and job security, Gen X-ers realize that corporate downsizing and layoffs mean that they are going to have to be more independent and self-reliant. Since they grew up with computers, they tend to be globally aware and understand the value of work/life balance.

Generation Y. This generation is also referred to as Millennial. They were born between 1978 and 1987 and are the youngest generation in the workforce. Like Gen X-ers, they grew up more independently than Baby Boomers. However, because of technology, their helicopter parents were usually hovering nearby. While they have some things in common with Baby Boomers when the Boomers were young—they both appear to be idealistic and environmentally conscious—they differ in many ways when it comes to job expectations and motivation. Gen Y-ers are typically creative, comfortable with technology, and not shy about speaking up in corporate environments. Many of Gen Y-ers are recent college grads so Gen X may view them as competition because Gen Y tends to be cheaper hires.

What are some similarities in Gen X and Gen Y?

It’s not all about the paycheck. For most Gen X and Y-ers, the motivation to do a good job at work isn’t only about how much they earn. They both seem to desire an intellectually stimulating work environment and put more emphasis on a sense of accomplishment.

Honest feedback. Gen X and Y-ers like timely feedback. Annual reviews are less desirable for these generations. They prefer knowing when they make mistakes and being coached rather than lectured as they go along. Specific feedback is viewed as a positive and the faster they receive it, the better.

Work/life balance. Work/life balance sets Gen X and Y-ers apart from Baby Boomers. The younger generations are more apt to be accepting of telecommuting and other less traditional work environments. Because they tend to be creative and independent, work options like flextime may be more appealing.

Loyalty. If you want to stand the best chance of evoking work loyalty from Gen X and Gen Y, recognized their accomplishments and reward them with fun ideas like having an ugly tie day, giving out sports tickets, or treating them to lunch with their co-workers. Gen X and Gen Y-ers thrive on feeling as though their career and personal needs are being met. They are not adverse to job hopping if they don’t feel appreciated.

Training. Gen X and Gen Y like learning and they prefer mastering new skills. Since these generations often see the big picture, they look for ways to enhance their careers. By providing on-site job training or off-site classes, Gen X and Gen Y-ers may view their day-to-day activities as more than just jobs.

As you learn more about the newer generations, you may find that it is not so much about finding the perfect employees but more about retaining your new hires. By incorporating clear expectations, rewarding your employees, and functioning as a team, you should discover that working with Gen X and Gen Y is not as challenging as you may have thought. By addressing Gen X and Gen Y’s needs, you might even have less internal conflict in your business, too.


Pamela Rossow is a freelance writer who works with higher education clients such as eLearners. She is a native South Floridian who enjoys photography, literature, and hockey. You can follow her on Google+.