Generation Y, Timesheets and Climbing Trees

Much has been written and pontificated about regarding the entry of Gen Y into the workforce.  For those of us in the “professions”, this poses a real challenge.  These guys have grown up “connected” like no generation before them.  They are far more flexible and open to things than our generation and don’t necessrily do some of the “traditional” things well.  This is one of the reasons businesses such as Google do so well – they allow their people to have time to be creative and explore things.

One interesting thing about the Gen Y’s is that many of them have grown up playing computer games.  Whilst this might not have done much with regard to their ability to climb trees, it has taught them, from an early age, things like strategy and considered approaches.  Their modus operandi seems to be that they’ll source out the process to get to Level “x” on the internet and then start challenging themselves.  There is some thought that this may be an issue in that they haven’t learned the process themselves – I’m not sure whether this is the case – they have learned how to “short circuit” the approach.

Anyway, the issue then becomes one where they hit the workforce and some rusty old guy with grey hair tells them they have to account for every 6 minutes of the day and this will be the basis on which their performance will be assessed.  Given their more relaxed approach to things, this doesn’t sit well – they’ll be needing some flexibility to attend to their mobile phone, their facebook, their twitter and the various other social networking sites they inhabit.  An employer who tries to stifle this will face challenges.

I had an interesting experience with one of my young guys the other week – we visited a “traditional” accounting firm to do some due diligence work on a business one of our customers is looking at acquiring.  They had the timesheets and they had the workpaper files (about 6 inches thick).  He’d never seen this stuff (came to us from Uni) and could not get over the fact that people worked like this in todays’ environment.  Our discussions afterwards were quite enlightening!

I have found that Gen Y people are (usually) creative and flexible.  A timesheet will make sure that this creativity and flexibility gets killed stone dead in the name of “productivity”.  Removing the obligation for them to record their life in increments will create the opportunity for them to do what their computer games have trained their minds to do – learn, strategise and work out the best approach.  Isn’t this more useful and effective in a “professional” office enviroment than being able to climb a tree?

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