Understanding Generation Y – Technology
Generation Y – those born between 1980 and 2000 – are entering the workforce ‘en masse’ and it won’t be long before they dominate it. In this series of articles I will explore different characteristics of Gen Y, or ‘Millennials’, and what it means for business.
Probably the main defining characteristic of Generation Y is their affinity with technology. Raised in the digital era along with the emergence of the internet, this generation is far more comfortable using technology than their older counterparts.
Early Millennials may have had a primitive computer in their homes. Waiting what seemed like hours for basic computer games to load (which sometimes they didn’t and you had to start again!), and which also allowed them to write code for simple functions. Not exciting by today’s standards, but it gave these youngsters a familiarity with computers that has stayed with them. Later Millennials have never known a world without internet or email.
Once social media came along with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, Generation Y were more than comfortable to adopt these as communication methods of choice. Mobile phone technology then put this in their pockets and gave them access to everyone, everywhere – including at work.
This can be a source of friction. Research by PWC suggests that 41% of Millennials prefer to use electronic communication rather than face-to-face or telephone. So a text message to say “I’m not well, I won’t be coming in today” might seem perfectly normal for Gen Y, and yet sit uncomfortably with a manager. Indeed, managing by text message is not that alien in a world with remote working.
Generation X or Baby Boomer managers can sometimes be less comfortable with technology in the workplace, whereas Gen Y will want to use it as much as possible. Gen Y are also keen to explore and adopt new technology, whereas their managers may not see the value. Who would have thought your firm would ever have a Facebook page?! It’s quite the must have now!
However, Gen Y don’t always insist electronic communication. When it comes to their own performance or development, they want face-to-face meetings. In fact 96% of Millennials want performance conversations to be in person with their manager. They take their development very seriously as we shall see in a later article.
So if you are managing Millennials or have a high proportion of Gen Y in your firm, consider how open you are to using new technologies. Are you aware of the latest developments and how they could benefit your firm? How can you seek out flexibilities and efficiencies using technology? Don’t be too judgemental of younger colleagues using technology to communicate, they are not hiding behind it, its just normal for them. Besides, they don’t hide away from the serious conversations – make sure performance reviews are always face-to-face.
Next time: Understanding Generation Y – Work-life Balance