“Baby Boomers vs. Generation Y”. At my previous workplace this has always been a topic. I’ve been told that the “Ys” are not as responsible as the baby boomers, and that we take employment as a joke. I beg to differ, we may be dancing to the beat of our own drum, but that does not mean we are irresponsible. I think many of my fellow “Ys” would agree that life is not as easy as the previous generation makes it seem.
Many baby boomers are under the impression that a secondary education makes it easy to get a well paying career, but this is not always true. Yes, as Canadians our Generation Y is more educated, thanks to national student loans and accessible education. Unfortunately, a college or university undergraduate degree is treated like a high school diploma, because EVERYONE has one! This means that we are still struggling to find employment. Not only that, but most jobs today are contract positions, hence, leaving young individuals unemployed periodically.
Unemployment aside, let’s talk about work ethic. I’ve been told that our generation does not have appropriate working habits. In other words, we are on our phones or the internet way too often. I’m sorry, but just because you may look like you are working does not mean you are. Many employers are baby boomers, and they believe that a cell phone is a huge distraction, but they don’t understand that using a phone is second nature to us “Ys”. It does not take much thought, and checking our phones is usually out of habit. Just like how many baby boomers look at their watch every so often.
Generation Y strives for comfort and customization! The older generations work on a clock, 9am – 5pm, being the average. I may be surfing the net at 11am at work because my brain is not functioning, but that would mean I will go home and finish any outstanding work, or stay late at the office. At the end of the day both generations meet the same deadline. We have technology that allows us to work from home, why not use it?
In order for us “Ys” to be productive we prefer comfort over order, and this is difficult for the baby boomers to grasp. Also, we are all about technology, we want to finish work in the shortest amount of time, and we want to make it easy. Baby boomers may call this lazy, but I say we are genius! With this being said, not all careers give room to work from home so generation Y should be mindful of that.
Another issue that has been irking me is… I despise managers who micromanage. STOP! When managers breathe down my neck, it does not motivate me to work harder, it annoys me. Many of my previous managers were baby boomers and not all of them micromanaged. But there were a few who used the nature of the “Ys” as an excuse to watch our every move. Personally, when a manager doesn’t trust me, I start to care less about my work and that affects productivity. Another aspect employers should be mindful of is that generation Y is driven by the desire to help make change. We want to make a positive impact. Many of us have a hard time working without a purpose, and I think this goes for any generation. The only difference is that baby boomers have been taught to believe that the working world operates through fear of authority….. NO IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!
Also a relaxed environment is highly preferred! As an employer if you would like efficiency, you would have to make generation Y genuinely care about you. Friends over the institution, is how generation Y operates. Personally, I find myself going above and beyond for my current manager in comparison to my previous one. The only difference is… I actually like my current manager because she is more personable and talks to me like a friend. As a result, I am willing to stay back and finish work that does not even belong to me, just so I can make my manager’s life easier. Not only that, but I go out of my way to fix conflict because I genuinely care.
Lastly, generation Y prefers instant feedback and recognition. It is much more effective than end of the year achievement awards. We are accustomed to everything being instant, from food to everyday communication. One pat on the back goes a long way!
Overall, I am not saying generation Y is any better than previous generations, we are just different and different can be good!