Understanding Generation Y in the work place

One of the top ways I am spending my sabbatical from the corporate world is in indulging my reading habits. I love my books but much to my own surprise it seems that my reading habits have changed – I am doing most of my readings online. So today’s top subject was “generation Y” – defined by Wikipedia ( I do love this online encyclopedia) as the generation born anywhere between the mid to late 70’s until the early 90’s in some cases. One of the distinguishing factors of generation Y is our affinity to technologies that connect, we are far more likely to be on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and anything else really that connects us to our peers where we can find acceptance. We are also far more likely to stay in touch with our family and have a wider network than the generations before us.

What this translates to in the work place is that Generation Y is far more likely to switch jobs than any previous generations. We are defining our success by a completely different standard then the one’s that traditionally existed. The breakdown of the economy as we know it, the recession and the resulting joblessness has also meant that a lot more people of this generation are likely to be entrepreneurs.

I quote below directly from Wikipedia:

The Millennials are sometimes called the “Trophy Generation”, or “Trophy Kids,”[68] a term that reflects the trend in competitive sports, as well as many other aspects of life, where mere participation is frequently enough for a reward. It has been reported that this is an issue in corporate environments.[68] Some employers are concerned that Millennials have too great expectations from the workplace.[69]Studies predict that Generation Y will switch jobs frequently, holding far more than Generation X due to their great expectations.[70] To address these new challenges, many large firms are currently studying the social and behavioral patterns of Millennials and are trying to devise programs that decrease intergenerational estrangement, and increase relationships of reciprocal understanding between older employees and Millennials, while at the same time making Millennials more comfortable. The UK’s Institute of Leadership & Management researched the gap in understanding between Generation Y recruits and their managers in collaboration with Ashridge Business School.[71] The findings included high expectations for advancement, salary and for a coaching relationship with their manager, and suggested that organisations will need to adapt to accommodate and make the best use of Generation Y. In an example of a company trying to do just this, Goldman Sachs conducts training programs that use actors to portray Millennials who assertively seek more feedbackresponsibility, and involvement in decision making. After the performance, employees discuss and debate the generational differences they have seen played out.[68]

The way I see it as a generation Y person myself is that all these are playing out to the advantage of the companies themselves. More people switching means more new blood in the companies, new people bringing in new ways of doing things. People with a lot more exposure in a lot of different areas enrich their work environment by bringing in their expertise, networks, ethical practices or just their behavior. Managers in this generation are far more likely to be flexible and understanding while aggressively pursuing the bottom line. As the generation that has seen the bubble burst, we are far more likely to take greater risks to find new ways to get to the top.

Companies that wish to retain or reduce their employee turnover would therefore have to invest in greater understanding of the motivational factors for this generation. We are not defining success in the traditional way, so the traditional ‘stick and carrot’  approach of disciplinary action, promotion or monetary incentives alone will not always work. More people are looking for greater visibility, are more invested in seeing the direct impact of their work, places increasing importance on flexibility facilitated by connectivity to derive satisfaction from their job.

All of the above are purely my own personal view. I would love to hear from my readers on how they believe that the generation Y is impacting the work place.

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Posted on February 19, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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