The IABCs of Communicating with Generation Y

Today’s IABC luncheon featured a fascinating presentation by Leah Reynolds, national practice leader, Generational Change and Total Rewards Communication, Deloitte Consulting LLP, who discussed the characteristics of Generations X and Y, and why they respond to communication differently.

A lot has been written recently on the fact that, for the first time ever, four different generations are represented in today’s workplace. The latest is “Y”—a huge group (born between 1981 and 1993) encompassing 78 million individuals, nearly twice the number of Xers (born ’61 to ’81). Here’s Businessweek’s take.

Organizations, says Reynolds, are not ready for how to effectively “plug in” to this next generation—a street-smart group that does not want to be micromanaged nor tethered to a 9-5 desk but assessed by their results. With Yers, respect is earned, not demanded.

In the future, companies will be scrutinized more than ever by this entrepreneurial demo who will decide whether they want to work for a particular organization based on its reputation and values. Attracting key employees in the coming years will be dependent on a company’s actually practicing what they preach. Retaining and utilizing them effectively, further, will entail a willingness by the “old guard” to adapt to these new kids on the block in how they communicate day-to-day and operate in general.