"A lot of folks are valuing free time more than ever before. People expect three weeks vacation, something that in many companies, you wont get before your third year. Theres a big difference in candidates today, and they want to perceive that they can be in control in the workplace, and that someone will value their opinions," said Lanzalotto. In labor markets as tight as the current one in IT, companies have begun putting an added focus on retention tacticsperks that will make a job more appealing for a professional who can take their pick of places to spend their workday.A company that doesnt mind their employees taking a long break or a day off after a big project is completed will be viewed as more worker-friendly and embracing of work-life balance than those who come down harshly on such matters.Managing the exceptions In her book, "A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell: Handling Idiots, Whiners, Slackers, And Other Workplace Demons," Gini Graham Scott presents advice to managers about what to do when saddled with "problem" employees of all varieties. From employees who are impossible because they are clueless or incompetent, to those that goof off too much, get angry too frequently, or are constantly saddled with personal or emotional problems, she feels that knowing which type of problem worker is being dealt with can help guide a management approach. Click here for a guide to understanding Generation Y. "You need different strategies for dealing with different types of people. A good one is to try to sit down with the person and find out why this is going on. Try to deal with it on an individual level and find out whether they dont like their work, whether theyre a bad fit for the office or whether they are overwhelmed with person problems," said Scott. While an approach should be as gentle as possible, Scott considers it essential to set limits before workplace morale is affected by a single slacker. "Talk to them as soon as you become aware of this behavior to try to get them out of the pattern. Initially you might have gentle talk, but if the behavior continues, their work is falling behind or their results are lacking, you must intervene before it affects the whole workplace," said Scott. Lanzalottos management approach differs slightly: "You need to manage the exceptions." "If you have an A player on your team that works their butts off all the time but when the holidays come around, shops online a bit during the day, you might let it go. But if you have someone who plays Solitaire nine hours a day and everyone complains about them and you dont deal with it, it becomes a morale issue," said Lanzalotto. Still, the toughest cases, and the ones that show the most of what managers are made of, Lanzalotto argues, are the ones in which a once top-notch employees work has slipped. "Employees who have checked out are some of the biggest challenges, high-performance players who lose their juices. If a manager knows theyre going through a rough patch and lends support, the person will probably appreciate the support theyve been given. It just might be the boost that they need." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, analysis and commentary on careers for IT professionals.