Talking about their generation

It is often said that youth is wasted on the young.

This may be true, but the future is all theirs. If Gen X left school or university wondering if they would find a job, Y Gen are in no such situation, with more jobs than candidates available at every level of employment.  The biggest dilemma for organisations across the world is how they will compete for a decreasing pool of young people who still provide the backbone of new talent for organisations. 

Technology savvy Y Genners are hardcore online browsers of opportunities, possibilities and experiences. A job is just one of countless choices they have. For this group organisational loyalty is fading, the work ethic as we know it is dead, permanent employment went out with the twentieth century and long service leave is something they simply do not understand.  Because work is not viewed as an investment in the future with an organisation, they want immediate payoffs from the workplace.

Given the variety of choice, this generation likes to keep their options open. They know that making a commitment to a specialist skills path for example closes down options that may be more exciting. Which is why 60 per cent change their university course in their first year; they do not complete apprenticeships and more of them seek generalist and most often double degrees in order to expand their job options and prolong the moment of decision making. When they take a job they are three times more likely to change in a year than baby boomers and one in four do.

This is a generation that is both exciting and frustrating. Frustrating because they flaunt what we think are entrenched behaviours. They resign by SMS and see no reason to serve out a period of notice.

However they are also the most flexible, multi-skilled and multi-tasking generation ever.  Yes, even the boys. They are at ease with technology, diversity, complexity and uncertainty. If Gen X wanted to know what you will do for them next week, Y Generation want to know what you are going to offer them right now. Baby boomers were willing to wait much longer for their organisational rewards. Y Generation, on the other hand, are commitment phobic – they will not be lured by promises of climbing ladders, paying dues and cashing out at retirement.

They want you to answer the question for them: what value can I add today? What can I learn today?  What reward will I receive today?

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sheryle Moon said,

    OUr current workforce has 4 generations of active workers and as the population growth slows due to lower birth rates and people work longer we could have more “generations” working together. A generation is loosely defined those born in a 15 year period. So baaby boomers are defined as born 1946 to 1962, X gen 1963 to 1978, Gen Y 1979 to 1994. Then we have the Z or the online generation,. who are still at school.

    Each generation is said to have some attributes which are defined by the times they group up in. These psycographic characteristics help us understand the motivators of each generation. We work betetr with people when we understand what motivates them.

  2. 2

    Mary Cameron said,

    Really enjoyed this post for its succinct and balanced account of Gen Y characteristics. Stumbled on it while researching a presentation to parents on how to talk to their teenagers about careers….it helped me heaps

    It also just occured to me that many of the parents in my session are likely to be Gen Xers and their career and parenting experience and aspirations may well be different from mine as a Baby Boomer…hmmm back to the presentation drafting /drawing board..


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