What defines the character of the people who have entered the work force over the past dec-ade? 9/11? The dotcom boom and bust? Hip-hop?
None of the above. The correct answer is video games--the phenomenon that both binds together this generation and separates it from its baby-boomer forebears, says Mitchell Wade, co-author with John C. Beck of Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever. When you can't figure out how to motivate, compensate or manage someone under the age of 35 or so, he suggests you ask yourself whether a difference in childhood rec-reational activities has something to do with it.
People who grew up playing video games have several distinct characteristics that savvy employers should be aware of, says Wade. First, drop biases about gamers as socially isolated thrill-seekers. In fact, gamers are good at puzzles, excel at risk-reward calculations and are highly achievement-oriented.
Make your gamer a team leader--they value collaboration and understand how to communicate with others. Have a challenging assignment? Give it to a gamer. Their experience with complex games leads them to accept and expect some failures--but they also expect to ultimately win.
Youthful gamers can often be hired at lower wage rates than older workers. But they expect big rewards for the value they create, so err on the generous side when setting gamer pay and perks.
Most important, keep an open mind. "It's easy for a baby boomer to look at this age group and see spoiled slackers," Wade says. "But they are extremely serious about achieving in their professional careers."