Published on 19-04-2018
X, Y and Z. What exactly distinguishes these generations? How do they behave in the work field? A better understanding of the generation’s differences and commonalities can be a great advantage in today’s war for talents. Today, we will continue our series with the famous Generation Y – also called millennials!
The Generation Y is one of the best-researched generations. As in our past blog post on Generation X, today we will take a closer look at the following aspects:
- Definition, core values and specific features
- The behaviour of Gen Y in the work field
- HR implications and consequences
Generation Y – Definition, core values and specific features
The people born between 1980 and 1999 are referred to as millennials or Gen Y. The “Y” is not just a logical consequence following after Generation X but appropriately pronounced like the word “why”. This name already showcases the very core of this generation: the constant questioning of traditions, rules and routines.
Depending on the source, millennials are assigned the following characteristics:
- Optimism and self-confidence
- Disoriented and jumpy
- Looking for security, stability and a deeper meaning
- Strives for performance, meaning and fun in (working) life
- Wants flexibility in space and time
- Calls for steady development and clear communication
- Tech-savvy and active in social networks
Members of the Generation Y are the first digital natives and have been confronted with the latest technological media since their childhood. The internet is therefore not just a formal part of millennials’ everyday life but became a fixed part of their lifestyle. Real-time information and communication are seen as normal and a life without a mobile phone or the Internet as impossible.
The generation grew up in times of climate change, globalization and terrorism. Living in the here and now is, therefore, more of a priority for many millennials than making long-term plans, especially in today’s constantly evolving and changing world. The desire for self-realization and a deeper meaning plays a key role in their lives. This approach has a huge impact on the job market.
Generation Y in the Work Field
Generation Y is currently conquering the job market and changing it in the same breath. It is expected that by 2025, millennials will comprise three-quarter of the global workforce. But what is actually their attitude towards work?
Unlike their predecessor generation, millennials do not see any purpose in working to live. They want to find a way to integrate their work into their lives, follow their passions and find a deeper meaning in what they do. This means, on the one hand, that they can be highly motivated in areas that they consider as interesting. On the other hand, they are constantly questioning their activities and are less likely to commit themselves long-term to a company.
Generation Y is an expert in multitasking and teamwork. A study of the Berlin Institute Trendence shows that collegiality and personal development are at the top of the ‘Dream Workspace’ list of millennials. Status and prestige scored the lowest out of the study’s 19 categories, showing that the focus of Gen Y shifted. Long-term career goals and the acquisition of leadership positions are being replaced by the desire for flat hierarchies, networking and teamwork. Adapting to this shift is crucial to remain relevant as an employer or how Crystal Kadakia, author of the successful book “The Millennial Myth“, phrases it: Stop complaining and start modernizing!
Instead of complaining about adapting for millennials, it’s imperative for leaders and managers to acknowledge the role of millennial behavior as an indication of the needs of the modern workplace to attract, leverage, and retain modern talent.
― Crystal Kadakia
According to the German Association for Human Resource Management, the so-called “work-life balance” slowly but steadily evolves into the “work-life-blend”. This concept mixes together the two aspects of our life rather than strictly separating them: Life and work are seen as consistent and symbiotic, with work viewed as a genuine part of life. An example of work-life-blend can be as simple as allowing employees to bring their dogs to work or offering the possibility to handle private matters, such as going to the dentist, during the day. The idea of sitting down in the office from 9 to 5, even though all tasks have already been completed, is unthinkable for Generation Y and a clear exclusion criterion for potential employers. Flexibility and mobility are keywords to retain millennial talent.
HR Consequences and Implications
The war for talent is more intense than ever. This is not only caused by the ongoing demographic change but also by new expectations on the side of the candidates. The following list includes the appropriate HR and recruiting methods to meet those new expectations of Generation Y:
Active Corporate Culture
Millennials want to work for a business with which mission they can identify. Only when they see a sense in putting in their time and effort. The personal Cultural Fit with the desired employer is, therefore, an important factor for millennials. It is advisable not only to clearly define your own corporate culture but also to communicate it actively – internally as well as externally. A well-developed employer branding strategy is key because just as the successful entrepreneur Tony Hsieh says:
Your culture is your brand. – Tony Hsieh, Zappos
Positive Candidate Experience
Generation Y is used to real-time information, interactive user interfaces and personalized messages in their private lives, and they expect the same from their future employer. It is therefore essential to make the Candidate Experience during the application process as positive as possible. A well-designed career website, clear online application forms and mobile applicant tracking systems (ATS) are a good first step in the right direction.
Gen Ys not only want flexible working hours but also ask for a flexible workplace. Nowadays, you can see them working everywhere, except in an office. In a nutshell, future jobs should be designed to match the personal living conditions of these workers – not the other way around.
Challenges & Training
Most millennials do not only bring a University degree, but also a mix of practical experience – from internship to student work job alongside study – to the table. That is why they expect to be provided with challenges and “real” tasks from the beginning on. They have no interest in being treated as the young, innocent “Newbie”. They demand challenges and bring the ambition to master them. A mentoring program during the onboarding process is very popular among them because it not only provides them with the opportunity to actively participate in projects but also facilitates an active integration into the team.
This was a small insight into the Generation Y. In the upcoming week, we will explore the Generation Z in depth. So make sure to save the page! The overview of Generation X is available as an Infographic, which is available as a free download. Also, CompanyMatch published a White Paper on the topic “Corporate Culture in a Digital World”. The report can be found here.