Disloyal, arrogant, selfish, overindulgent, high-maintenance, frivolous, image-driven, impatient, over-confident and spoilt. Generation Y has been called it all. And now the generation that everyone thought would never grow up is celebrating its 30th birthday this year with plans for world domination.
Raised by technology with the Internet as their babysitter, Gen Y, who make up one fifth of the Australian population, are proving their worth – particularly in the workplace. Despite being labelled as having short attention spans and being ill prepared for the ‘real world’, employers are starting to see the benefits of hiring Gen Y. Here are 10 reasons why you should as well.
While the older generations usually chant the ‘chained-to-your-desk’ mantra, Generation Y is pushing to reclaim their work–life balance. While their career is highly important to them, Gen Yers believe that working hard and effectively does not equate to working long hours. They have no trouble blurring the lines between work and their personal life and this means they are strong advocates of flexible hours and working from home.
This change in attitude has meant that today on average we spend fewer hours in the office than we did in 2000. And who would say no to a better balance and working smarter?
In general day-to-day operations, Gen Yers are improving the workplace through an emphasis on networking and teamwork. Workplace culture and colleagues are very important to Gen Y and this is reflected in their preference for fewer meetings and more team-oriented and collaborative work. They are wary of office gossip and instead prefer to build strong relationships with everyone.
To serve this need for networking, they have brought with them the adoption of internal social networks, including instant messaging, video and phone conferencing as new methods of communication, increasing the amount of communication while decreasing the time it takes.
Fluent in the language of social media and technology, Gen Yers are the harbingers of change in the office. Workplaces have now adopted social media and technology to not only conduct business in a more effective manner but also to change the way they market their brand and their business. They are quick adopters of new technology and prove a great asset for businesses trying to push the cyber-boundaries.
Indeed, this generation understands more than any other the ability of social media and technology to be a powerful tool in day-to-day business, from sourcing information to creating a following. With their adaptable nature and willingness to try anything once, Gen Yers are at the forefront of innovation, turning traditional business operations on their head.
Generation Y are entering the workforce with higher expectations than previous generations. While many see this as rude and demanding, knowing what you are worth and what you want is not necessarily a bad thing. People from all generations want an enriching job, an inspiring boss and flexible work options, but it is Gen Y who believe these should be a set condition of employment rather than an added bonus.
In the world of Gen Y, everyone is a winner and anyone who participates, regardless of winning and losing, deserves a reward. This ideal has led to a shift towards using constant encouragement, feedback and incentives to motivate staff. A job with a purpose, great working conditions and strong work relationships are primary incentives for Gen Y.
Gen Y are a more tolerant and culturally aware bunch than their predecessors. Having grown up with (almost) no limitations and the world at their fingertips, Gen Yers have been exposed to a multicultural world, making them more tolerant of differences and, indeed, advocates for it. This acceptance stems from a strong belief in equality for all and their views on sexuality, gender and gay marriage are less conservative than that of their elders.
This awareness has also led to a strong understanding of conducting business without any borders – an asset in a global economy. To hire a Gen Yer, you will have an employee ready to work anywhere, anytime.
Tipped as the next leaders of the world – ahead of Generation X – Yers believe in a different method of management and leadership than their traditional predecessors. They dislike the hierarchical management style adopted by most businesses as well as the commanding and controlling nature of traditional managers. As leaders they believe in motivation and the freedom to voice your opinions, fuelled by their love of collaborating and their drive to find a purpose.
With the dawn of their takeover fast approaching, we can expect to soon see management styles change to a more hands-on, incentive-driven model. Make sure your business doesn’t get left behind.
While many see Generation Y as ‘Generation Me’, over half of this so-called self-absorbed generation are involved in charity work and believe it is important to support their community. This principle is also prominent in their career ambitions and most Gen Yers seek work that has a purpose and value companies that understand their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Many recruiters have described interviewing Gen Y job candidates as more of a means for the Gen Yer to interview the company, analysing everything from their carbon footprint to their ethics and philanthropic activity.
Being no strangers to change, Gen Y is a group of adaptable and fast learners. They are the most educated of all the generations and they enjoy the process of learning, shown in their keenness to master new processes and programs. Their love for new technology is unrivalled and with an iPhone in one hand and a Kindle in the other, they are the masters of multitasking. Workplace training and development is very important and, in fact, often demanded as a part of their work conditions.
This desire for knowledge and ability to adjust makes Gen Y ideal for the ever-changing business environment.
Facing a constant bombardment of information, images and advertising since birth means that Gen Y is more critical, and indeed cynical, of marketing and packaged messages, so businesses need to earn their alliance rather than expect it. This ability to question what is has also given Gen Y the knack for discerning what isn’t.
Their curiosity and insatiable thirst for information makes Gen Y a nosy bunch, unafraid of asking ‘why not’. This, coupled with their intense drive and enthusiasm, gives them the power to do anything they set their mind to. Harnessing this inquisitive nature will give you an employee who never stops looking for new opportunities as well as threats.
Whether you like it or not, Gen Y is the face of the future and the smart thing to do is to accept it and ready yourself for their impact. Full of energy, hopes and dreams, they are a generation whose optimism for the future is unmatched by any other. And having lived through war, terrorism and the financial crisis, this attitude is far from naïve or unrealistic.
No one is better equipped for business in the twenty-first century than Generation Y. Filled with new ideas and, more importantly, the understanding of how to put them into play, they have a bright and innovative vision for the future.