Lucy arranged an event recently to consider Generation Y in the workplace and the discussions that took place presented plenty to think about.
Taking on an apprentice at Rambutan this year has been a rewarding experience for our business. Our apprentice, Lewis, quickly become a valuable asset to us and we are determined to provide as varied a workplace experience as we can to help him make his choices about his future career. Lewis is quite a bit (okay, quite a lot) younger than other members of the bunch and it’s been interesting seeing him make the transition from school life to work life.
I’ve long been interested in supporting young people into the working world, having previously worked for a charity whose focus was just that. I thought it’d be great to get some people together to discuss whether we should be doing anything different for these new entrants to our organisations. I was a little nervous about the day, because I’m used to running activities that have been designed to guarantee a result for our clients’ specific needs. On this occasion, I was saying, ‘hey, I think it’d be really useful to talk about this stuff and I think you’d find it interesting too.’ I needn’t have worried, as the group that came together were all as passionately interested in exploring this topic.
Did you know that most people’s brains are not fully developed until about the age of 24/25? The last part to develop is the pre-frontal cortex, the part that handles so much of the stuff that’s valuable for work, like planning, decision making, social interaction and self-awareness. This could mean that young people face tougher challenges getting used to the world of work, but it also presents a fantastic opportunity for learning and self-development.
Everyone we invited to the event was asked to come as a pair, consisting of a more experienced person in the workplace and someone who could be considered to be a member of Generation Y. The topics discussed included what young people need from their boss, how brand influences who they choose to work for and how brand affects retention of this generation, and what would be useful (and not useful) in engaging this group. It was interesting to understand more about the importance of relationships, and that bosses need to recognise this first and foremost, both in their role and in the culture that young people work in. Social media means young people expect to always be in touch with everything and everyone and this can present its own pressures in the workplace. We all agreed that young people need to be like chameleons, being different individuals at work, with friends and at home. Those who don’t manage the transition are likely to be the ones who aren’t successful. However, we couldn’t decide how different our experience of this was, as we remembered our youthful activities with a few wry smiles.
We wouldn’t suggest that Generation Y was 100% accurately represented by our young attendees on the day, but it was incredibly enlightening and provided plenty of food for further thought. A huge thanks must go to Wesleyan Assurance, who hosted the event for us and provided a delicious lunch. Wesleyan’s apprentices, Ashlee and Rosie helped organise the day, along with our Lewis, and between them they did a fantastic job making sure attendees got all the information they needed. We’re also grateful to all our guests who contributed so much to our discussions. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to know more. I’m always happy to chat about this topic!