The influence of Generation Y

How generation Y will influence our way of working in the future.

Type in Google “Generation Y” and you will be surprised by the number of articles and books you will find. Why is that? As a baby-boomer (those born between 1946 and the early 1960s) or adherent of the generation X (born in the mid 1960s and the early 1980s) one might become jealous of the attention this generation is attracting. Never before in history HR managers were interested and yes, puzzled, to a similar extent in what this generation feels and how this generation wants to work.

Generation Y, those born between the 1980s and the 00s, is a highly qualified and well educated generation that experienced a lot of insecurity over the last couple of years. First, there was September 11th, followed by Irak crisis, environmental crisis, fear of terror, finally finance, debt and euro crisis. This generation early learnt that there is no year-long stability but that things may change quickly and fastly and what they do is simply to adapt. Malicious tongues would say they optimize themselves. But why should we care about?

Every generation has its own more or less characteristic attitudes. And often they only stick a minority of a whole generation. This answer is that this generation has a decisive advantage. There a few of them! In times of demographic change and war for talents, HR managers and employers should learn what this generation is like. Many HR managers think that we are at the start of a period of famine and that young talents with the right skills should be won at all costs. One important characteristic seems to be that this generation asks for jobs that give a meaning to them. They seem less likely to do long working hours, claim a work-life balance and permanently require feed-back. Mockingly one would say they are good at tech stuff but are a bit work shy. But things are not that easy.

One thing is sure: Employers have to be prepared to manage three different age groups with widely differing attitudes. Older workers retire later and younger enter early into the labor market which makes it hard to find the best office organization for three generations.