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Gen Y at work

Posted by on October 22, 2010

I’ve been reading Y-Size Your Business.  As much for the insight into the next generation as for insight on how to involve them in our mission.  It’s a pretty good, easy read.  Many of the principles presented are mix of good management practices applied to the specific nuances of gen Y and good parenting practices applied to someone newly entering the work force.

There are a few good take away’s I have been chewing on:

1. There is greater age  diversity in the workforce today than ever before in history.  The workforce today spans 4 generations: the Matures, the Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y.  Each has a very different outlook on the work force, life and world view in general.  Each generation has different events which define them.  (You’ll have to read the book for these events!  🙂 )

2. Most people assume Gen Y are tech savvy.  They are not, they’re tech dependent.  This is a very important difference.  Most Gen Y don’t know or care how technology works, they only know they are dependent on technology for daily life.  They can’t fathom life without a cell phone, Twitter and Facebook.  They don’t understand why anyone would pay to publish a book when they can keep a blog for free, or why anyone would buy and read a paper book instead of kindle or audible.  Because of this, they consume communication in a very different way than previous generation did.  Gen Y requires a constant stream of communication in small bites.  This is critical for working and living with Gen Y.

3. Gen Y are a product of their parents philosophy of work and life.  The majority of Gen Y parents were boomers.  In general Boomers wanted a better, "easier" life for their children.  They instilled a philosophy of "you can do anything you want to do" in their children and their Gen Y children are usually dependent on them well into their twenties, so much so that there is a new term for them; "Adultolescents".  It is common today for someone in their 20’s and 30’s to live at home and be supported at least partially by their parents.  This is in stark contrast to previous generations, where our parents philosophy was "you’re an adult now, it’s time to get out there and find your own way."

These as well as other minor nuances have shaped the next generation and whether we like it or not, these are the young adults who are now entering the work force, management and leadership and will soon lead our world and decide the fate of the aging generations.  Therefore, we need to try to understand them, work with them and teach them what we’ve learned through the years, while they are still young enough to listen.

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