Provide regular feedback. Today's workers need to know how they're doing — often. From the time they're hired, have a set timeframe for reviews. In between such meetings, be sure to let younger employees know — on the spot — if they've done something well or, likewise, if something was done incorrectly.
Offer training and educational opportunities. Cohorts of Generation Y enjoy learning and quickly grow bored. To keep employees fresh, periodically switch them to new departments and/or duties. Encourage employees to attend training programs, such as those conducted by manufacturers.
Ask their opinion. In traditional workplaces, the lowest man on the totem pole was told what to do, no questions asked. Today's workers want to understand the meaning of their duties and see how their efforts fit into the context of the big picture. In short, they want their input to be valued. Consider holding regular staff meetings with an open forum for employees to comment on work practices, etc. Be sure to stress the importance of constructive criticism and don't allow the meetings to devolve into bitch sessions.
Lighten up. As previously mentioned, employees entering the workforce today don't look like they did 20 years ago. Your youngest employee might sport a nose ring and have tattoos covering his forearms and/or unique facial hair. Keep in mind that these styles are just that: superficial expressions of one's taste in fashion. They don't have much to do with an employee's abilities or attitude. As long as an employee's appearance meets general standards of decency and is not overtly offensive to customers, consider being somewhat flexible. That being said, don't be afraid to assert yourself about the practical aspects of your company's dress code (such as wearing safe footwear and uniform, etc.).
Show respect. Everyone wants to be treated with respect, but today's newcomers to the workplace are different in that they were raised in an era that stressed positive reinforcement over discipline for negative behavior. Young people today don't take well to being scolded, but instead expect criticism to come with a smile and constructive comment.
Cultivating productive employees from the youngest members of the workforce will come with challenges for the older set, but if you make an effort to understand where Generation Y is coming from and what motivates its cohorts, the result can be a positive breath of fresh air for your business.