Butterfly.com Table Tennis
By John Anderton, CEO, Butterfly
Generation Y were born between 1980 and 1994, which now makes them between the ages of 20 to 34. A number of self-appointed management experts proclaim that Gen Y employees lack work ethic, have no respect, no loyalty, are impossible to manage, self-centred, lazy, demanding, programmed for instant gratification and are unrealistic in their career aspirations.
This flattering generalisation is inherently wrong. My experience is that these characteristics vary more between individuals than between entire classes born in different generations.
At Butterfly, all staff are Gen Y, with me as the only exception. I just miss the cut and fall into Gen X. Our staff are very loyal. In fact, last year, only two staff left out of 30. On the upside, we had two staff re-join Butterfly after leaving a few years earlier to take up roles elsewhere.
In an unusual coincidence both staff that left last year went to work at pole dancing studios. Nat left to run the online shopping site for a pole dancing studio, while Tan and his wife bought a pole dancing franchise to run as a family business. Tan still works for us as a development contractor on a casual basis.
We have a lot of staff stay for more than five years, which is great considering Butterfly is only seven years old.
CEO John Anderton and Senior Designer Renee Chambers
Renee Chambers is a great example of a happy, loyal, conscientious creative Gen Y Butterfly team member. Renee did an internship with Butterfly way back in 2007 while she was still at university, and was then hired as a graduate starting in February 2008. Renee has worked at Butterfly ever since. That's one employer for over six years.
So what does it take to create a culture where Gen Y thrive? It comes down to cultivating the right environment. Creative projects. Constant challenges. Access to self-development opportunities. Respect for them and their opinions. Coaching rather than commanding. Only selecting the right cultural fit and defending the culture vigorously. Doesn't this sound like a place where any person would enjoy the workplace, regardless of their age?
The next sections of this blog will look at each of these factors in more detail.
Creating the right environment
The first step to thriving Gen Y staff is creating the right environment. Three crucial aspects of this are job design, the physical workplace and the social environment.