With the first batch of GenY fast approaching their 30th birthday, we are finally starting to see the influence of this generation on the workplace. The most famous GenY of all, Mark Zuckerberg, has already made a significant and lasting impression on the way people connect and share information.
GenY have lived through the age of globalization, cable TV, environmentalism and the internet. In lectures to undergraduates I am often amused by their bewildered expressions if asked to contemplate a world without the internet. For those of us over 30 that world was not that long ago. And of course, for those Baby Boomers among us, it is easy to remember the pre-computer days.
Here are three recent stories about GenY as examples why, as employers, we have to start to understand how they think:
- The first was told to me by a colleague who attended the 2010 Our Sporting Future Conference. The presenter, a recruitment specialist, was recalling a recent interview of a GenY candidate conducted by an Interview Panel. At the conclusion of the interview the candidate congratulated the panel for the way they ran the session adding, “I thought you did really well today.”
- Sportspeople recently offered a role to a GenY candidate, providing better salary, more attractive hours, training and work conditions. He declined the opportunity as he could not "waste" an additional year or two proving himself to a new employer before being looked at for a promotion.
- After attending the Australian F1 Grand Prix, a staff member texted his employer to advise that, “I’m feeling fatigued this morning. I think I should rest today and come back tomorrow refreshed.”
Confident or arrogant? Too impatient to climb the career ladder or simply knows what he wants? Lazy or simply cares about work quality?
Most of the social research about engaging GenY focuses on keeping communication styles credible but, more importantly, being direct. It suggests keeping it "raw" and "real". GenY has had access to open and advanced technology, and they relate well to spontaneity but more so than others, dislike being bored. They have to be interested in what they are doing and what we are telling them.
I recall reading an article in the Sydney Morning Herald late last year that, among other things, suggested that when GenY are deciding to accept a job salary ranks sixth in order of importance after training, management style, work flexibility, staff activities, and non-financial rewards.
For GenY a job merely provides the income to do what they want to do. Interestingly, GenY actually appear to be putting into action the adage, “work to live, not live to work”.
This raises a number of issues for employers, particularly for those Baby Boomers and to a lesser extent, GenX who may still hold on to a belief that a job should be a career. For GenY it is likely they will seek out more job opportunities, shifting from one employer to the next and not be overly concerned about trying out new vocations rather than waiting to climb a career ladder.
When we look at a CV of a GenY candidate our ideas on "job stability" will be challenged. But this ought not eliminate them from being considered for the job.
As a parent I have a GenY son and a GenX daughter. I’m pleased to say that most of the time I can absolutely understand and respect their position on issues that may be very different to mine. As a parent, employer and recruiter I know we must engage with this emerging generation and work hard at understanding their social attitudes, communication style and characteristics.
RM - Sportspeople Recruitment
First Published 2011.