In the interests of balance....
Negative Conceptions of GenY:
There can be no doubt that not everyone believes that (perhaps apart from their own kids) the
youth today is the greatest, most beautiful and smartest generation that has entered this world. In
fact, there are countless articles that tackle the problems of Generation Y and aim to explain why
today’s youth is just not up to the standards of its predecessors. Common words and phrases
associated with Gen Y are shown below. Need more be said?
Want to be nurtured (constant feedback, immediate recognition) at work
Demand workplace flexibility
Unresponsive to motivational tactics
Motivated not only by money, but also fun and social (Maslow’s hierarchy)
Easily bored (less consumerism, more engagement and stimulation)
No job or brand loyalty
Focus on live rather than work (work to live)
Ignorance of politics
No ‘sucking up’ but questioning and challenging employers
From a workforce perspective: they are difficult to attract, harder to manage and are
proving near impossible to retain.
Increased sensitivity to economic class
Demand rationale behind any request
Positive Conceptions of GenY:
While some negative press about Generation Y has been predominant lately, it has to be realised
that not all change is evil. In fact, positive aspects of this generation need to be highlighted, to
decrease generational barriers and create a more cohesive workforce with more satisfied
employers and employees. And there are plenty of positives about these individuals.
Furthermore, times are changing. Generation Y is here to stay and will be a major part of the
Australian workforce. And they can be beneficial to any organisation, bringing youthful idealism
and energy, a fresh view to the industry, new qualifications and a 21st century perspective to life.
In addition, there are other positive associations for Generation Y, which are shown below:
Ideally placed to be key drivers of product development and sales
Tolerant, accepting of differences in terms of race, gender and ethnicity
Concerned about environment
Multi-taskers and fast thinkers
Creative and independent thinkers
But perhaps most importantly....
Is there really such a difference?
It has to be acknowledged that pigeonholing an entire group of people into a category will only
serve to give a general overview of a person’s anticipated needs and desires. Everyone’s story is
unique and every individual has choices in how to respond to the surrounding environment and
make independent decisions. This could be said for all generations and people of all ages. It can
also be said that there have been countless teenagers and twens in the last 100 years that have
been rebellious and wanted to change the world. However, it is safe to say that it is our
surrounding environment that shapes many of our character traits. Therefore, it is logical that
people born around the same time, in similar social, cultural, economic and technological
environments will have similar characteristics. This in turn results in different perceptions of the
world and the way it works, known as generation gaps. For example, 48 % of Generation Y today
do not believe home ownership will be achievable in their lifetime. This highlights that Australia
is not the same place it was 25 years ago and therefore teenagers today are not like the teenagers
25 years today.
Why are the Y’ers what they are?
Generally described as impatent, demanding and self-interested with little job loyalty, it raises
the question of why values are so different today. Generation Y, which has grown up among
global terror threats and corporate downsizing, is driven by duty, independence and stability. To
them life is foremost and above all about choices. This generation has developed during one of
the most expansive economies in the past 30 years.
What needs to be realised is that Generation Y is the world’s first global generation. They are the
most educated, entertained, materially endowed, entrepreneurial yet supported and protected
generation in history. Generation Y experienced the “working mum trend” first hand, so it is no
wonder this generation places more emphasis on quality of life rather than standard of living and
puts family and friends first.
While everyone has their own perception of this group of people and
individuals in it, there are some general observations of Generation Y that seem to be prominent
in academic and popular literature.
Generation of Choice
Top three things they want in a job are positive relationships with colleagues, interesting
work and continuous opportunities for learning.
When accepting a job, salary ranks sixth after training, management style, work
flexibility, staff activities and non-financial rewards
Internationally flexible (overseas recruitment)
Community/Social driven: be respected, included, understood and accepted
Decisions based on peers
Increasingly short term focus (finish education)
High disposable income (no financial commitments)
Top 3 leisure activities being: go to a party, listen to radio, go to a movie
Communicating mainly through SMS and web