How can I get Generation X and Generation Y employees to work on time?!!

Q. Is it me or do “under 30” employees have serious issues with getting to work on time? In a call center environment we don’t have room for flexible scheduling, yet our Generation X employees seem to take this ticket anyway. Ideas?

Myra’s answer to: How can I Generation X and Generation Y employees to work on time?!!

I have spent the last three years studying Generation X– their behavior, working styles, and the best ways to retain and motivate them. This intense study of my very own peers has equipped me to help managers to much more effectively work with Generation X in such areas as giving feedback, coaching performance, holding employees accountable, and dealing effectively with unacceptable performers.

Generation Xers were shaped and molded by different times. These times were largely “flexible” in every area from the way they were parented to the attire they were allowed to wear in school. Flexibility is all they know and that’s why you will likely have “issues” with getting Xers to work on time, getting them to come in early for a mandatory staff meeting, or getting them to work overtime. They are accustomed to being able to “negotiate” everything and saying “no” at will. When they are tardy or absent, they are not usually being defiant, they are simply responding to your rigid rules with an assumed “right of flexibility” the way they have all of their lives.

The flexibility perspective of many Generation Xers will be manifested, not only with attendance, but also with attire, work ethic, and attitude. This week I will discuss how to talk to a Generation Xer about attendance concerns.

Am I suggesting that you should put up with the Xers flexibility needs and allow them to come and go as they please? Absolutely not. You’ve got a business to run and compliance with company policy is a reasonable expectation. Here’s how you address attendance issues with the Generation Xer.

1. Establish crystal clear expectations about attendance.
Saying “I need you here by 8:00am.” may not be effective. Instead, you’ll want to say “Your shift is from 8:00am – 5:00pm. This means I need you here, clocked in, in your cube with your computer booted up and ready to take calls by 8:00am. Walking in the building at 8:00am is not acceptable.”

2. Explain the impact on incompliance on co- workers, customers, and any other relevant parties.
You must get the point across to the Xer that her or his actions go beyond simply being late or tardy. The bigger picture consequences are much more likely to motivate positive performance change in your younger employee. Try this approach, “When you return from lunch 15 minutes late, it throws the entire lunch schedule off for your co-workers and results in even longer hold times for our customers. As I’m sure can imagine, this is frustrating for me, your co-workers, and our customers.”

3. Lay out the consequences of failure to comply with the policy.
Sadly, establishing clear performance expectations and explaining organizational impact, alone, will not be enough to get your Xers to comply with policy. You’ll have to clearly relay the immediate consequence of incompliance. An easy way to do this is “I need someone who can and will be here by 8:00am every morning. I hope that person is you. If you can’t do that, I will be forced to take progressive action that may include termination.” I know it sounds harsh, but you cannot afford to leave room for misunderstandings.

Supervising Generation Xers is not rocket-science and you can learn to do with ease and effectiveness. For a detailed live discussion on the working style, challenges, and expectations of Generation X and Generation X employees, tune into my live enlightening and riveting 90-minute webinar on Managing & Motivating Generation X Talent. We feature both live broadcasts and webinar recordings. Click here for the full outline.