I’m in the midst of researching an article on Generation Y (aka Millennials) and what we bring to the workplace. It’s been really fun so far, because research is essentially like reading my horoscope, only instead of being categorized in one of 12 months, it’s one of six 20-year spans. I get to read tonnes of material and feel validated because I relate.
Can we really lump millions of people into one category and call it an identity? Probably not. After all, not everyone born after 1980 is a tech-savvy, hyper-consumer with an Arts degree and a quarter-life crisis under his or her belt. There are plenty of exceptions to the non-rule.
However, if people are products of their culture, there could be something to the generational tendencies. While we don’t all line up on the Myers-Briggs personality test, we did experience the same social and political events in our formative years, which probably had an effect on our collective values. If nothing else, I think it’s worthwhile to pay attention to patterns of emerging paradigms, especially when they are as awesome as ours. The more I find out about what Gen Y is doing in the workplace, the more I’m glad I was born in the eighties.
Here are some highlights. Millennials:
- are less likely to accept command and control, top-down communication; we prefer collaboration
- are more likely to prioritize work-life balance over money
- are less likely to work for socially irresponsible and unethical companies
This is great stuff. We are a generation that wants meaningful lives.
Gen Y-ers aren’t always met with open arms—labelled entitled and whiney, much like our post-war predecessors. As a group, our reputation for job hopping is met with disdain, as is our lack of willingness to wait around and pay dues.
To me, these aren’t necessarily bad qualities.
Dissenting tradition will always be frustrating for those who have clung to it for a long time. But I think it’s called fresh air when earning company loyalty takes more than a paycheque and when quick solutions are more valuable than keeping up appearances.
Like us or loathe us, Gen Y is a group to be reckoned with. As children of aging Boomers, the Gen Y population is large enough to make the changes that Gen X couldn’t. Now it’s a matter of what we’ll do with the influence. As not to be too proud, I am reminded of the hippies who grew up to run the very corporations they once despised. I’ll revisit this topic when I have a mortgage.