“Welcome to Generation Y”

Who Are They?

By: Tony Parsons, Retired Labour Analyst & Career Consultant

This demographic group of people was mostly born in the early 80’s. They are the sons and daughters of families who reflect both Boomer and Generation X values with their focus on self-determination, careerism, and an antipathy to a world of work where one’s future was essentially governed by the cultures of those organizations that are, or were, formally hierarchical. This attitude was less attractive for Boomers, and offers little motivation for Generation Xers, and virtually no motivation for Generation Y people.

Those that would be of most interest to employers are typically the sons and daughters of families who are visibly upwardly mobile, and where both parents are often working in careers. This mobility has decreased commitment to developing large families. Therefore, their offspring benefit from more available resources for education, and access to developing those values that are brought on by experiencing material wealth.

It is easy to adopt the belief that Generation Y is spoiled and self-centered. This is not true. They are willing to take entrepreneurial approaches to life and work. They are work and career investors. They invest in their employer to learn, grow & develop, and to make a good living, these are the motives that drive them to succeed. They have little or no interest in paternalism and palliative mission statements.

Being a marketable commodity, they go where the market is best for them, but they are also very willing to invest in good performance to achieve their goals. They see security as being far more than job security. For them security comes from career entrepreneurship, and opportunity to develop job market mobility.

They are more financially intelligent than prior generations. Not wanting to wait for pension plans to vest, they are early investors in retirement savings plans, and real estate where available. Their expectations for savings are greater than past generations. Statistics show that they begin investing in retirement planning far earlier than other generations. This requires net disposable income, and it also reflects the attitude of taking responsibility for their own futures, (entrepreneurship).

They seek out ways of achieving balance between work and personal life. Self fulfillment is seen as a commitment to both career and personal life. They are also far more interested in environmental issues and societal values than any other generation. Many will not work for employers that do not actively pursue environmentally friendly policies, and good community citizenship.

Born into a growth oriented labour market with lots of jobs, they are not intimidated by autocratic organizations or forced conformity. They want work environments offering good communication, mentoring, and to be a part of things that make a positive impact.

As a generation who grew up developing new economy technical savvy, they adapt well to the changes that are required to function using the tools of information technology. This built in partnership adaptability makes it easier for employers to engage in partnership for change.

 Some Things That Employers Can Offer to Attract and Keep Them

Provide opportunities for flexible work patterns. These include flexible hours, options for performing, work assignments from home, and banking overtime hours for paid time off.

Ensure good mentoring from supervisors. Meet their expectations for learning and developing.

They want to know where they stand in terms of performance and development. Regular access to performance reviews is important. See this as an investment in talent management.

Offer environments where employees are kept in touch with their employers’ objectives, goals and corporate performance via internal communication loops.

They are motivated by job descriptions that offer room for creative thinking and reasonable freedom to exercise judgment plus make suggestions for ways of improving work and problem solving functions.

Preferred work cultures are those that espouse clear and transparent values provided by tangible evidence of commitment to positive social community values.



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