Generation Why?

Ever wonder why that 24-year-old new hire comes off as being a little too competitive, confidently eyeing your office as if it’s up for grabs?  Who is this kid acting like the boss on their first day?  Don’t worry, there’s an explanation for this and it’s called Generation Why. Also known as: Generation Y, Millennials, Gen I (Generation Internet), Generation Next, Adultolescents and Echo Boomers.  The work force is changing and this group will soon account for the majority of workers, especially as Baby Boomers start to retire.

The generation of workers born roughly between 1977 and 1995 rivals the boomers in numbers, and is proving to have a significant influence as well.  It’s not just their multitude that makes Generation Next important to the labor market.  They’re unlike previous generations, and that’s forcing a shift on firms and managers. From wanting to make an impact on day one, to independently tackling huge challenges, Echo Boomers are requiring employers to adjust, not only to their behavior, but also to what seems to be a whole new set of career expectations.

Adultolescents are more concerned with an organization’s culture, than the job.  They prefer open communication and to interact freely.  An uptight formal traditional business style of culture is not going to attract and retain Generation Next.  This is forcing human resource managers to adjust, for example, methods of recruiting and retention, especially in order to hire and keep the best young talent.  Don’t endorse the old factory mentality, “when you’re at work you work, no down time.” Encourage free communication and promoting teamwork.  Just a little fun will go a long way!

Along with seeking work to be more meaningful and challenging, Generation Internet also aims to make significant impact in a short amount of time.  They want to work faster and better than others.  Their work ethic, which can be viewed as competitive, may well be an outcome of being independent and tech savvy.  The Twentysomethings are like living, breathing search engines.  Not only do they ask question after question, they’re quick learners and quick to put together information.  In that way, they are incredible assets.

With the ever-changing workforce, understanding and adapting to the new values and demands of Generation Y will no doubt be an important factor. In the coming years, Millennials will be called upon to help fill the big shoes left by exiting boomers.  These workers could force you to rethink and improve methods of recruiting, training, and management – the lifeblood elements of any organization.

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