Monday, 17 September 2012

3 Myths About Generation Y

3 Myths About Generation Y

By Cheryl Cran

"Generation Y lacks loyalty"
"Generation Y are lazy"
"Generation Y are fickle"

These are just a few of the statements made by Generation X and Baby Boomers that I hear from my consulting clients and they are UNTRUE!

You have to be willing to understand the mindset of Generation Y (those in their 20's) before making broad generalizations about them. Ever since the whole awareness about multiple generations in the workplace there have been judgements about each of the generations that are biases and these biases do not help the generations to work together better.

The purpose of looking at the different demographic realities in the workplace is to not put people in a box but to provide context of human behavior based on the era that someone grew up in and the environmental factors that have affected them as they grew up to shape their values today.

With context we can adapt to others viewpoints and we can shift our behaviors to get better results with others.

Generation Y were born in the 80's and they are the product of Baby Boomer and Generation X parents. Generation Y has been indulged and pampered by their parents because of the 'lack' that they experienced in their upbringing.

Generation Y were the first to get Nintendo game systems for Christmas instead of an Easy Bake Oven and they were playing video games, while on the phone, while doing homework during their childhood and teenage years.

As adults Generation Y see the world of work (I recognize that I am generalizing here - research bears out that the majority of Gen Y's have similar values) as a place to connect with others, to learn, to grow and to play. Their motto is, "life is first- work is second" hence why a Gen X or Baby Boomer can feel as if the Gen Y lacks work ethic.

Let's explore the first statement at the start of this article:

"Generation Y lacks loyalty" - the truth is that they have seen their parents come home and whine about how much they hate their jobs, say that they can't wait to retire and implore their Gen Y children to 'find work they love' when they grow up. This is the messaging they have heard around the dinner table. They also saw their parents be loyal to an employer and then get downsized, restructured or laid off.
This is why most Gen Y's are not loyal to a brand or employer- they are loyal to their friends and themselves.

The next statement, "Generation Y are lazy" this one makes me crazy as again their parents typically have not instilled in their Gen Y children the concept of hard work. You have Gen X and Boomer parents still making their kids beds, cleaning their room and letting them off the hook with their chores. This is because Gen X and Boomer parents want their kids to 'have fun' by doing after school activities and interests. Gen Y therefore see work as a series of projects and to the level that they are 'fun' is to the level that they will engage and get the work done.

And finally the phrase, "Generation Y are fickle" this is similar to lack of loyalty and lazy but the fact is that there are more choices today for a Gen Y than was ever available for a Gen X or Boomer and those choices are around technology. More Gen Y are seeing entrepreneurism as an employment option. And guess what- their parents are funding these start ups! Generation Y want to be unlike their parents just like Gen X and Zoomers wanted to be unlike their parents. Gen Y see that they can change jobs as often as they like to follow their interests and that there is no longer a bias of 'job instability' as there once was for Gen X and Zoomers. They see lifelong learning and vast experiences as their key to a happy future.

Frankly there are biases about all of the different generations but this article is to provoke some thought about which of these biases you may have and how you can shift that bias to an understanding and therefore shift your approach with Gen Y.

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