Recognizing Generation iY in Your Church: Ready or Not, Here They Come!

Millions of high school and college students have just graduated nationwide. Today’s grads are part of the Millennial Generation. They represent the second half of this generation, and I call them Generation iY, because they grew up influenced by the “i” world, iPods, iTunes, iPhones, iChat, iPads…you get the point.

These grads from Generation iY (the kids born since 1990) are now job hunting. Business media is inspecting them like scouts hunt gifted athletes. About 10,000 of these kids turn 21 every day. Their generation is 80 million strong and growing. Their presence in the workplace is already causing a splash because they are…well, different. While the media describes them as “entitled” or as MTV’s “no collar workforce,” I think if we understand them, we can make the most of their gifts. Based on stats from Pew and, let me de-code them a bit below.

1. They appear “choosy” or picky…but they want work to have meaning.

These students are primed to “give it their all” but only if they find jobs that offer meaning, mentors and merit. They want their job to matter, they want to grow and they love being “heard” by supervisors even though they’re young and have no experience. The desire to make a difference is a core Millennial trait.

2. Their work ethic appears low…but they want to connect socially.

The average adolescent is disconnected from others only one hour a day, out of 24 hours. They sleep and often shower with their cell phone. The quest for meaningful work and relationships seem odd to elder employers. “Loving what I do” outranked a big salary or a bonus, according to Pew Research. 89% agree it’s important to be “constantly growing at my job.”
71% want coworkers to be like a second family.

3. They want to belong…before they believe or behave.

To understand the “cart” and the “horse” in a Gen iY kid’s life, it’s important to know that they’ll work till midnight on work projects, but only if they’ve been given a sense of “ownership” and have been listened to by colleagues. 50% of them would rather have no job, than have a job they hate. 95% are motivated to work hard if they know where their work is heading. We will get the conduct we want if we first connect the mundane task they perform with the big picture.

4. They appear to be cocky…but they believe they offer something valuable.

Raised by “peer-ants,” (parents are like peers), they’ve always had a say. 76% of them believe “my boss could learn a lot from me.”
65% say “I should be mentoring older coworkers when it comes to tech and getting things done.”
This doesn’t mean they don’t think they have a lot to learn from a boss. It’s a sense that learning is a two-way street, regardless of seniority.

5. They want to apply themselves…but they don’t separate work from play.

In one study of Baby boomers and Millennials, they were asked to anonymously send postcards in which they explained what it would take for a
company to get them to do the best work possible. A typical Boomer response was: “Give me my objectives and get out of my way.” A typical Millennial response: “I need flexibility, respect… and snacks.” According to Generation iY, work should be fun.

6. They appear to be insubordinate…but they just want to create their job.

These conforming non-conformists are a paradox. They want to invent their job, then add value. 66% of them agree they want to invent their own position at work. 60% agree “if I can’t find a job I like, I will try and figure out a way to create my own job.” 83% of Generation iY is “looking for a job where my creativity is valued.”

7. They appear to be different…but actually want to be part of the big picture.

A full 70% of Millennials say they need “me time” at work, almost twice as many as Baby boomers.
93% said they want to be themselves, yet they do want to blend and be part of something bigger than themselves. 75% of Gen iY want a mentor, or as one participant said “I don’t so much want a boss; more of a Yoda.” Bottom line? If we will invest in them—they will invest in the work and furnish a huge ROI.

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Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders. His latest book Habitudes for the Journey is designed to master the art of navigating life’s critical transitions.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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