Generation Y was born around 1977 to 1994*. It is the fastest-growing sector of the workforce.
Also known as the Millennials, many of them are now starting their first jobs. The Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) are currently retiring, making way for Gen Y.
Soon Gen Yers will surpass the previous generation (X) in the workforce. This is a generation defined by contradictions.
It is the most educated, culturally diverse, wealthy, optimistic and tech-savvy of all the generations so far.
Gen Y on the job
Gen Y faces challenges in the workplace unique to their generation.
The economic downturn has made the job market unpredictable.
Youth unemployment is increasing.
According to research by the American Psychological Association, this generation is stressed about unemployment, money, relationships and job stability.
They deal with huge pressures due to the increasing demands of work and personal lives.
This sector of the population has more choice than their parents. From educational choices to work opportunities, even freedom of sexual orientation.
All these options are confusing and stressful. There’s immense stress around having to live with the consequences of their decisions.
“But in the workplace Gen Y is confident, sometimes overly so,” says Zinhle Matentji, MD and owner of executive recruitment company SearchSpecifics.
“They like to be challenged, want to have their ideas and opinions heard and won’t hesitate to question authority.
Gen Yers require constant and immediate feedback about their performance. It’s important to them to know they are on the right track.”
This need for instant feedback is understood when you consider Gen Y in the social media and mobile communication context.
They have learnt to expect a fast response to their SMSes. To having something they posted on Facebook being ‘liked’; to staying abreast of news as it happens on Twitter.
Gen Y can’t wait for yearly work appraisals.
Many have a ‘work to live’ rather than a ‘live to work’ attitude. They don’t feel the need to pay their dues in their careers like their parents did.
If they are bored or offered more money they will make the move without hesitation.
Researchers have found Gen Y sees their jobs as temporary. 55% regard their jobs as merely career stepping stones.
This has resulted in Gen Y developing a reputation of job-hopping. Company loyalty is lacking.
They constantly chase the next big salary package.
“This situation has also been created because they are in demand for their skills. For being tech-savvy and they know it,” says Zinhle.
“In my experience, many young people who are qualified on paper are being paid huge packages. Unfortunately it’s a case of too much too soon. It’s all about the money.
Job experience and true depth isn’t there because they don’t do the time. They are still being employed. Companies need the skills that these candidates have on paper.”
Futurists predict that Gen Y will have 10 different careers in their lives. Many will juggle several jobs at the same time.
For more information visit www.searchspecifics.co.za
* Generation Y dates differ from country to country.
Zinhle Matentji, MD of SearchSpecifics.