19 Apr 2012

Generation Y's growing business impact

Generation Y, the collective label for people born between 1982 and 2000, are now the fastest growing segment of the workplace. These are the people that grew up in the golden age of technology – many were using computers throughout school, had mobile phones as teenagers and experienced the rise of social media first hand. From all this, Generation Y (Gen Y) is unique in their outlook, motivation and goals. In order work with and manage Gen Y staff, it’s important to understand what makes them tick. What are Gen Ys like? Generation Ys are known for their positivity, high levels of education, ability to cooperate, open mindedness and drive. This has made them well suited to the workforce and many managers are impressed by their energy and relevant skills. Conversely, Gen Y are also known for their short attention spans and sense of entitlement, showing a reluctance to perform tasks they see as ‘beneath them’. Each of us, both as individuals and collective generations have positive and negative attributes that affect our working abilities. The identification of these attributes however, is a key factor in understanding how to best manage and work with our colleagues. What motivates Gen Y? Cisco’s International Gen Y study completed last year, showed that:
  • 45% of employees aged 18-29 would accept a lower paying job if it had more flexibility on device choice, social media access and mobility.
  • 41% of employees aged 18-29 said their companies marketed a flexible device and social media policy to recruit and attract them.
  • 29% of college and university students believe that once they begin working, it will be their right – not just a privilege – to be able to work remotely with a flexible schedule.
From this data, we can see that money is not the decisive factor for Gen Y. Instead, they value flexibility, a relaxed workplace and perks. How do you manage Gen Y? Generation Ys have high expectations of their employers. They want fair and direct managers who are well versed in their field and have clear objectives. Similarly, Gen Yers need to be consistently learning and challenged. They are known for their ability to multitask and pick up new skills, so this must be engaged to prevent boredom and attrition. In addition, Gen Ys generally work better with small goals and tight deadlines to build their own ownership of tasks. They desire responsibility and an opportunity to make a successful mark on the workplace. As mentioned above, a key aspect of managing Gen Y is giving them the opportunity for balance and flexibility. Gen Y want to maintain their life outside work; understanding this is key to understanding this demographic. What have been your experiences with working with Gen Y? As a member of Gen Y, do you agree/disagree with any of the ideas presented? Have your say below.