Leadership Tips for Managing Gen Y

By Roberta Chinsky Matuson President, Matuson Consulting | December 22, 2013

They have been called a lot of things: Gen Y, Millennials, the What's-in-it-for-Me Generation, and other monikers that we can't put in print. This is the generation that in three years time will represent 50 percent of the workforce. They have been raised by the Baby Boomers, yet they are nothing like their parents.

This generation gave themselves a pretty bad rap right out the gate. Many entered the workforce during the Dot.com days, where young technologically savvy workers ruled the world. They earned more money in their first jobs than their parents earned at the peak of their careers. Talent wars were all the rage. Like Hollywood starlets, their demands kept rising and they experienced short-lived fame. The Dot.com bubble exploded and these workers found themselves back home, unemployed and sleeping in their old bunk beds.

This generation's claim to fame may have ended years ago, but unfortunately for them, their reputation still stands. Gen Y is desperately trying to repair the damage done by their older members.

Meet the Generations

It's no secret that every generation sees the world differently. Their attitudes and expectations are influenced by the events that occurred during their formative years and when they entered the workplace (see Beloit College's Mindset List below). Many of us still hear from the Traditionalists (those born before 1945) about life during the depression. It's as if this period in time never ended. It should come as no surprise that Traditionalists are often described as loyal, hard working, thrifty, and willing to make sacrifices.

Fast forward to the Millennials, who were born in the '80s. Most have lived a very protected life. They were raised by work-obsessed Baby Boomer parents who tried to make up for time spent away. They were awarded trophies for joining the team, taken on expensive vacations (no Motel 6's for this group), and shielded from hard labor (also commonly known as entry-level minimum wage jobs). This group is not accustomed to starting at the bottom and working their way up and they will tell you so in no uncertain terms. They question the status quo, work on their own terms, and want to make an impact on Day 1.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.