Generation y refers to the specific generation born between the 1980’s to the early to mid 1990’s, other terms used to describe this generation include: Millenials, Y Generation, Generation We, and Echo boomers. As a demographic, Generation Y is the fastest growing generation in business. Some key facts about ‘gen y’:
- Approximately 20% of the adult population of the UK is Generation Y, although many of these people are unemployed, or in jobs not suited to their skills.
- The oldest members of Generation Y were born at the same time the Compaq Portable PC was issued, and the youngest members at the same time as the first generation iPod mini
- They live with their parents for longer than previous generations
- Generation Y adults are considered more narcissistic than those of previous generations
- Roughly 1/3 of Generation Y adults use the internet as their primary source of news updates
- Most Generation Y adults are more interested in job fulfilment and satisfaction than large salaries.
- On average, Generation Y adults are more liberally-minded than older generations
Characteristics of Generation Y:
Tech / web savvy – Generation Y were born into an emerging world of technology and have grown up surrounded by smart phones, laptops, tablets and other gadgets. They are constantly plugged into technology and view it as an essential aspect of life.
Family orientated – the millennial generation prefer flexible working schedules and a more rounded work/life balance. Many Generation Y’s have grown up with overworked parents and this has driven their approach to work, and for most family life takes priority over the work place.
Ambitious – on average Gen Y only stay in a role for 2 years and expectations often need to be managed as Generation Y’s are self-assured enough to take on important roles within organisations as soon as they start. With young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerburg as inspiration, the millennials believe there’s no limit to what they can achieve.
Team Players – teamwork is high on the agenda of Generation Y and regular team meetings and collaboration with colleagues is preferred. Generation Y wants to be involved and included. They expect openness and transparency from management and colleagues and look for this team playing mentality within an organisation.
Communicators – communication is key for Generation Y, however it has to be on the right terms. Sending a Generation Y an email, a tweet or a Facebook message will receive an instant reply whereas a phone call may take a longer to return. Communication which is quick, effective and on Generation Y’s terms will well received.
Like to be loved – constant feedback, gratitude and relaying to someone that they are doing a good job are common characteristics of Generation Y. In generations before, this level of communication with senior management was unheard of, however Generation Y seek this level of openness in the workplace.
Entrepreneurial – Generation Y are entrepreneurial so the rise in self-employment throughout this generation will be evident. The years millennials are in business will see a change from traditional forms of employment to self-employment, multiple jobs and diverse career paths.
Managing Generation Y in the workplace – some tips:
- Remember that Generation Y are also the biggest consumers in society – make sure you make the most of their knowledge and views about how to market products and services
- They look for managers who are interested in their professional development – ensure your organisation is clear about progression through the business, and offers opportunities to train and learn new skills to advance
- Gen Y workers benefit more from being coached rather than being directed or controlled in a micro-management style. This style of management may require specific management training.
- Gen Y craves responsibility and involvement within the workplace and they are often berated for their want to be ‘fast-tracked’ into management. However, this can work in your favour as they’ll naturally become personally invested within the business, producing better results.
- Gen Y benefits greatly from regular feedback. You only need to take a look at a Millennial child’s constant stream of blog posts, status updates, and texts to know they are big fans of acknowledgement, as well as interaction.
- Gen Y workers were raised on flexibility and the best way to get them onside is to offer them a flexible route to an end result (which can be specified by you).
- Gen Y have been surrounded by technology their whole lives which has offered them an array of infinite possibilities and they’ll expect the same within the workplace. Make the most of their knowledge about social media, and agree reasonable boundaries around its use during work time.
- Recognise that Gen Y will often prefer to communicate through email and text, but they also enjoy face-to-face communications and working as a team.
- Give projects just the right amount of structure; let your project workers know what end result you expect, along with checkpoints you need them to make along the way, but allow them to choose their route independently.
- Gen Y values a work-life balance more than other generations, their motto is ‘work smarter, not harder’ and with this in mind managers will benefit from considering ways in which to balance the working day. For example, could you offer the option of working from home?
With reference to Generation Y blogger Ryan Gibson for the facts in this article