Understanding the Y Generation
When you ask the ‘average baby boomer’ what their thoughts are on the ‘Y generation’ you will usually here something along the lines of “They just want everything handed to them … where is their work ethic!” And when you compare the difference between Gen Y and Baby Boomers (BB) and even Gen Y and Gen X, it is easy to see there is a clear difference.
So, I’m sitting here at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and our morning speaker is Dr Linda Duxbury. She teaches MBA’s and PhD’s on change management and this morning she put the Generation issue in pretty clear perspective.
When we look at demographic trends in most developed countries, during the past 30 odd years there has been an excess of supply when it comes to skilled labour. This has allowed employers to be relatively lazy and selective when it comes to choosing their labour. Meaning the employee has had to work harder to protect their position. Fast forward through that era and what we end up with is a generation of workaholics who now preach life balance but really that just means you’ve got a blackberry so you don’t have to be at the office all the time.
Now lets look at Gen Y. They have come into the market at a time when there is actually a shortage (and we ain’t seen nothing yet) of skilled labour which puts them in the power seat. Now they look at the workaholics with the supposed great work ethic and say …. “you’ve got to be kidding me!”.
Dr Duxbury put it really simply with the boiled frog analogy. As the BB’s and Gen X have worked harder and harder to keep their status …. they now think it is normal to work that hard (slowly boiled). The Gen Y’s and dipping their toes into the boiling water and saying … “you’ve got to be kidding me! Why would I jump into that boiling water?”.
So ask yourself … who is right? While there may not be a clear answer to that, I think it does pay you as an employer to start to get in touch with what drives Gen Y. If you think it is money … think again. #1 on their list is FUN and meaning.
If you want to grow the bottom line of your company over the next 20 years, then your people strategy may need an overhaul.