Generation Y – Businesses Need to Adapt to Succeed
Look around your office. How many people in your organisation are between the ages of 20 and 35?
People born between 1980 and 1995 (approximately, definitions vary) are known as Generation Y. They are sometimes referred to as ‘Millennials’ because they entered the workforce at the turn of the century. Despite the name or exact years, they have one over-riding characteristic – they grew up in the digital age defined by the Internet.
Nearly every generation thinks that the next is different and often problematic, but Generation Y have some distinct characteristics which do make them different and businesses and leaders need to take note in order to attract, develop and retain this young talent.
Already Gen Y make up 25% of the workforce in the US. By 2020 they will form 50% of the global workforce. In some countries Millennials already dominate the working population. However, despite their surging numbers, many CEOs are already concerned about a lack of available talent or are worried about attracting the right kind of talent in order to ensure their businesses continue to succeed in the future.
In particular there is concern about the number of younger people entering the professional services such as law and accountancy. Generation Y have quite different views about ‘traditional’ careers to their older counterparts and may be less willing to make sacrifices in the short term in order to reap longer term benefits. This may mean the long hours and lower salaries for junior employees may put some people off going into those professions.
Other differences include attitudes towards technology and how it can and should be used in the workplace, flexible working hours, work-life balance, feelings on personal development and the level of fulfilment that younger people expect from a career rather than status and financial reward.
There are also many myths about Generation Y such as they are lazy and have a sense of entitlement. Such negative opinions can’t help to build trust between older managers and younger employees. There are lots of strong attributes to this new generation that can, and should, be harnessed and used to good effect.
The first Millennials are now around 35 years of age and many are starting to enter more senior management positions and soon will be in significant leadership positions or even CEO. The impact on organisational cultures, leadership styles and the business world as a whole is as yet unknown but it will be an interesting time. Businesses must start to adapt their leadership styles and organisational cultures now in order to retain the interest and commitment of Generation Y.
In the coming weeks I’ll take a look at different characteristics and what they mean for businesses and business leaders, dispelling some myths along the way and helping you get the most out of Generation Y.