I recently hired a part-time assistant to help me get a bit more organized. As someone who studies generational relationships in the workplace, I was curious to learn how my personal experience as a Gen X-er managing a Gen Y-er would compare to other people's experiences. Though we've only worked together for a couple weeks, I couldn't be happier with the arrangement. Aside from the obvious advantages of working with someone younger (she tells me when I need to ramp up the cool factor in my speeches and blog posts), here are the top five reasons I love my Millennial employee:
1. She brings up things that never occur to me. As much as I study Gen Y and correspond with them frequently online, there's something completely different about having a Gen Y-er physically in my presence. Since she's fresh out of college, she brings a totally different perspective about my work and the world. By digging into her experiences and hearing those of her friends and peers, I widen my view of what's important to her generation. For my business and many other businesses today, Gen Y is either our entire customer base or a large and ever-growing percentage of it. No matter what your business, gathering Gen Y input is not only a good idea; it's become essential.
2. She's just tech-ier. Much of my day-to-day work involves staying on top of Twitter and leading webinars on LinkedIn. Even with my relatively good technical knowledge, I sit mesmerized as my assistant zooms around on her Mac, flips through her Google docs and takes advantage of all the Internet has to offer. Gen Y has a natural facility with technology that even many of us active in the digital space cannot beat. I didn't even know what I was missing in time-saving tech shortcuts until I watched my assistant.
3. She understands personal branding. As a speaker and writer, part of my job is selling myself and my skills. Gen Y understands the importance of personal branding, because they've been branding themselves since their middle school AIM profiles. In The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, psychologist Jean Twenge says Gen Y's preoccupation with Facebook and other social networks demonstrates their high levels of narcissism. To me, it's not so much narcissism as it is generationally-appropriate personal branding. Whether you're a writer, speaker, entrepreneur or just working on your professional image, it's important to have someone who intimately understands personal publicity on your team.
4. She's not really into the 9 to 5. She's more of a 24/7 kind of girl. If I email my assistant at 11 p.m., she responds. If I unintentionally interrupt her dinner, she isn't caught off guard. She's attached to her iPhone, and as her employer, I reap the benefits. Sure, there are a few catches. For instance, when I say Sunday night deadline, that may mean a little after midnight or even 2 a.m. Monday morning. But overall, her 24-hour work schedule works to my advantage.
5. Her energy is phenomenal. Lately, my days have been filled to the brim with meetings, speaking events and other engagements. In fact, I'm surprised my TripIt app hasn't crashed from overuse. I naturally have a lot of energy and need every bit of it to keep up with my busy schedule. But when I do find myself running on empty, my young and savvy assistant swoops in with a burst of positive energy that jolts me back on track. Her eagerness and excitement are quite contagious, and I'm loving it.
Yes, those Gen Y-ers are a little different than the rest of us. But I assure you the benefits of having one (or more) by your side are well worth the difference.