Workplace Flexibility for Gen-Y. Embrace it or die.

Workplace Flexibility for Gen-Y. Embrace it or die.

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Generation Y bring much to the table with their energy, youthful idealism, fresh ideas and connection with Gen Y customers. They are our next big wave coming through the workforce and we need them.

Leaders and Managers, especially those from a differenct generation, face a challenge understanding their needs in the process of acquiring, harnessing and retaining their talent.  They often change jobs every year or two, don’t respond well to traditional authority, and expect immediate credibility and fast promotions. Gen Y are sometime referred to as Generation “Why”, increasingly asking “What’s in it for me?”

They entered the workforce when unemployment was at its lowest point in over a decade, to Generation Y, getting a job is not something they’ve generally had to work too hard to get. They are also the most formally trained generation so far. However, training and development is an ongoing expectation not a reward or good fortune. They have grown up with technology, at their fingertips, and are heavily influenced by the societal and demographic changes this has brought with it.

When it comes to work, they are pioneers in a new definition of work/life balance and good pay is not enough. They enjoy professionals’ salaries, however, they rank many other factors very highly including organisational culture, collaboration and flexibility in the workplace. They’ve grown up in an “always-on” society. Work/life balance to them means being able to work anywhere, anytime, with technology of their choice allowing them to provide job outcomes as well as fuel their life. Generation Y does not work 9-5, they work 24/7 – they choose when and how to take time out differently.

For business leaders to offer Generation Y the “flexibility” and “choice” they base their employment decisions on so highly, it can cost significant sums of money, run against the grain of pre-existing organisational cultures and necessitates a significant easing of control.

The cost of not revolutionising organisational cultures, offering flexible working environments and technology toolsets, and the way we handle information and workflows can be devastating to the long term profitability and sustainability of the business. Conservatively, we will experience costly higher staff turnover, increasing cost of wages, stale ideas and less relevance than competitors.

From a technology standpoint alone, businesses need to:

  • offer employee device choice. To generation Y, it’s more than just a tool, it’s a symbol and can define them;
  • embrace a work anywhere, any time philosophy and this includes providing the people, process and technology to make this a reality;
  • maintain visibility and control over their corporate intellectual property, without taking away flexibility and choice;
  • support collaboration and interaction with highly flexible processes and technology toolsets;
  • understand the internet and it’s applications are not just a tool for commerce, it is a necessary communication medium.

Embracing this change is both challenging and rewarding. Take a look at the most profitable and successful organisations of the last 10 years – Google, Microsoft, Amazon, to name a few. Each of them have adopted this new world of organisational culture and are reaping the rewards.

Changing the way we offer workplace flexibility and choice need not be an excessively costly experience. Technology has improved to the point where the reigns can be loosened and gains made not lost. Working anywhere/anytime with a device of employee choice provides the opportunity to create and add value in a way and a time that is most productive to the employee, resulting in significant productivity gains and bottom line improvement.

Aryon has experience and skill in guiding organisations through this change process. We can assist with organisational change and integration of the supporting technology toolset and business processes that turn this idealism into reality.


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