April 27, 2010

How to motivate Gen-Y warehouse employees

By DC Velocity Staff

With "Generation Y"—the generation born between 1980 and 2000—making up the second-largest workforce in U.S. history at 70 million-plus people, you can't avoid them if you want to keep your DC fully staffed. But do companies really need to alter their strategies for attracting, retaining, and motivating employees who have never used a typewriter or worked on a carburetor?

Yes, said Don J. Boos, president and managing principal of the professional services firm Gorillas and Gazelles. During his keynote address at the NA2010 Material Handling and Logistics Show, Boos outlined what to expect from this new generation of workers and how to keep them happy.

For one thing, they are technology-savvy and expect the same from their employers. Running old software or hardware (or, heaven forbid, a paper-based system) is the kiss of death to these youngsters, who view old technology as a sign that a company will not be viable in the future. Additionally, if you aren't able to communicate with them through their media of choice, then they figure what you have to say is not of much value, Boos said.

The good news, said Boos, is that concerns about change management related to new technology rollouts are greatly diminished when you deal with Generation-Y workers.

Another key to retention is a flexible work schedule. Boos said that surveys demonstrate time and again that for Generation Y, time off may be valued more than higher pay. Younger workers firmly believe that they should be allowed to work when and where they want—as long as performance requirements are met.

More coverage from NA 2010