Best Practices

The Top Two Things Gen Y’ers Crave in an Irresistible Workplace

genY colleg student

The two things that make a Dealership a Gen Y Hiring Magnet are responsibility and expertise.

What’s that?

You were expecting something a little sexier?

Hear me out. Read on to find out why these two workplace qualities absolutely rock, and why this is great news for your dealership.

Let’s begin at the beginning. As a first-time Digital Dealer Conference attendee, I was thrilled to be able to attend the Zappos panel entitled “Building a Customer-Focused Culture.” Even though the focus of the panel was around customer service, the takeaways for me were really around Zappos’s legendary employee culture. Here are the two biggest things Zappos offers that makes them such a Gen Y magnet.


Many people (including many commenters on my past posts) think Gen Y’ers prefer to shirk responsibility in favor of drinking Slurpies and spinning around in their office chairs. The Slurpies and spinning part is completely true-the shirking responsibility part couldn’t be further from the mark. Gen Y’ers crave responsibility, and the youth-magnet Zappos delivers it in spades. In fact, if I had to name a single solitary reason why Zappos is such a desirable workplace for Gen Y’ers, I would say it’s because they give their employees an unprecedented and even shocking amount of autonomy over their own business decisions.

When Zappos says that every employee in the company is a shareholder in its success, it’s not just lip service. Each and every employee is a real power-wielding business decision-maker. In fact, Zappos employees are encouraged to do whatever it takes to deliver extraordinary customer service, including regularly breaking typical business behavior taboos.

These empowered employees may use their own professional discretion to take an eight hour customer call, to send a wriggling new puppy to a customer whose dog just died, to send a thousand pairs of sparkly Converse sneakers to the victims of a recent tornado. Zappos employees-largely Gen Y’ers-are empowered to do all of the above on a daily basis-no approval chain, no red tape, no permission needed. Each and every employee at the company is a bona fide business decision-maker, and that’s what makes this employee culture so irresistible to Gen Y.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Gen Y’ers adore responsibility. More importantly, the more responsibility we are given, the more we rise to the occasion. Treat us with the respect and empowerment we crave and we will jump through every hoop imaginable to deliver breathtaking results for you.


We Gen Y’ers have this crazy little quirk about us; we like to know what we’re talking about. More importantly, we absolutely dread getting caught in a moment where we don’t know what we’re talking about. My generation is an earnest and idealistic one, we value transparency, knowledge and expertise above all else. The thought of tap dancing around a topic or “Hey, look over there!” manipulation tactics to get out of answering a question we don’t know the answer to may be par for the course for past generations, but for Gen Y’ers, the thought alone makes us want to take about a thousand showers. Call us crazy, but we really just prefer to look like non-dumbasses whenever possible.

Additionally, we are savvy enough to directly correlate the amount of education we’re given with how much our employer is willing to invest in us. The more education we’re given, the more we bask and blossom in the knowledge that our employers think we’re worth something. It’s no surprise then that Zappos also has employee expertise down to a science, thanks to its revolutionary four week Customer

Training period, including a weeklong bootcamp in Kentucky, where employees are educated on every aspect of the business. Believe it or not, a weeklong bootcamp in Kentucky is music to my Gen Y ears. Again, Gen Y’ers have this bad rap as these learning-averse A.D.D. creatures who can’t sit through an hour lecture without checking Facebook fifty times. Again, the Facebook thing is true, the education thing isn’t.

Gen Y’ers are voracious learners for all the reasons I named earlier, plus more. We are the most educated generation in history because we crave new knowledge, especially the kind that empowers us to do our job in a fully sincere, thorough and correct way. We are much more comfortable with formal education that on-the-spot learning, so if you offer a training course, Gen Y’ers will be the first to sign up.

So there you have it. Give a Gen Y’er responsibility and education at the dealership, and you’ll see them poring over ROI results and cramming over training manuals in no time. We will do whatever it takes to get these two things. We will come in on Saturdays. We will work for low pay and lousy benefits. We will sell shoes online and live in Nevada. Without these things, you’ll just get the Slurpies and the Facebooking. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

What can you do to incorporate more responsibility and education into your dealership right this minute?

Jade Makana is the Senior Social Media Analyst at ADP Digital Marketing. Jade specializes in bringing corporate brands to life through emerging media....
  • J
  • December 2, 2011
Fantastic post! As a member of Gen Y, I wholeheartedly agree.  The more autonomy and responsibility I am given, the harder I work to exceed expectations and achieve my goals.  
  • J
  • December 2, 2011
She's baaaa'ack... :)
  • R
  • December 2, 2011
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  • K
  • December 6, 2011
Gen Y , Gen X.  i dont think there is much of a difference in work ethic as far as what you describe here in the post. ... says the 32 year old.
I'll second Kaiger00...I think we all want autonomy and a feeling that we can be trusted to break the rules if it serves the customer and therefore the company. I never worked anyplace that trusting...until I started working for myself, that is! (said the 41-year-old Gen Y'er)