By Andrew Dalglish - 17th December 2013
A client recently asked us to present to a group of CIOs from their enterprise customers. What implications, they wanted to know, does Generation Y have for the workplace?
Defining Generation Y
First, let’s define Generation Y. That’s not as easy as it sounds. Generations have ‘fuzzy edges’ so it’s not always clear where they start and end. Some definitions of Generation Y include anyone born from the late 1970s all the way up to the early noughties. However, there is general consensus that Generation Y includes those born from the early 1980s up until the mid-nineties, i.e. aged from around 18 to their early 30s.
Why is everyone of this age grouped together? Well, the theory holds that during our formative years (usually teens) our values and beliefs are shaped by two influences:
As Generation Y grew up with the same macro-environment, they have drawn similar conclusions about how the world works.
The Four Cs that shaped Generation Y
Generation Y’s world-view has been shaped by the four Cs:
The six traits of Generation Y
These experiences have led Generation Y to share six traits:
But don’t forget that this is a stereotype. Not all members of Generation Y will display these traits and members of other generations can also display them.
Six ways Generation Y differs at work
Let’s return to that original question. What implications does Generation Y have for the workplace?
There are many implications, but six are most significant:
This all means that Generation Y needs to be managed differently and care taken to avoid unhealthy conflict with other generations. Do it well, and the potential of Generation Y will be unleashed for the benefit of your organisation. Now that’s sick.
Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.