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Copyright © by Theodor Johann Tönsing; 2009

Generation at Work by Theodor Johann Tönsing Copyright ©

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Disclaimer: Although the authors extensively researched the best practices for managing Generations at work, they cannot be held responsible for any harm that may come to an individual or organisation stemming from the use of any of the material. The workplace will always be volatile and the responses from people cannot be accurately predicted.


Generations at Work CONTENT

















































Preface There has always been some conflict between the generations. Aristotle detected a generation gap in ancient Greece. Town-versus gown battles and apprentice riots were commonplace in the middle ages. Only during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, has a clearly discernible youth revolution become sufficiently important in history to attract the attention of social commentators in general and of historians in particular. Only during the past fifty years has a serious body of generational theory arisen to explain this startling phenomenon. (Esler vii) It is not the individual young malcontent upon whom these explanations focus, but youth en masse. It is precisely the growing tendency of considerable sections of an entire birth legion to adopt dissenting social views, and to act together to apply those views, that makes the defiance of the young historically significant in our time. It is this propensity which makes the youth rebellion of concern to the politician and the policeman, the employer and the marketing strategist the social scientist and the historian. And the simplest and most rational explanation of the typical youth revolt is to be found in one form or another of the theory of social generations. “(Esler x) Social commentator JosĂŠ Ortega y Gasset made an even greater contribution to the evolving notion of social generations. In such


works as The Modern Theme (1923) and Man and Crisis (1933), he elaborated a basic theory of generations in history. Ortega believed that each generation passes through a recurring evolutionary development of growth, young manhood, gradual rise to power, and eventual domination of society. According to his theory, the period of childhood covers the first fifteen years of life; next comes the period of youth, from ages fifteen to thirty; then the period of initiation into positions of power, from thirty to forty-five; and finally the period of direction and control of society, from fortyfive to sixty. For the Spanish philosopher, as for Dilthey earlier, the influences which mold a social generation appear to lie largely in the area of intellectual history. Historic events, for the Spanish thinker, play little part in the shaping of a generation. In Germany, meanwhile, the sociologist Karl Mannheim identified that the progression of social change causes each generation to be different in many ways from its predecessors. In a rapidly changing society, the crucial formative experiences of childhood and youth are bound to be different for each consecutive generation. The predictable result is the increasingly far-reaching differences between the generations themselves. A common birthday, as Mannheim points out, clearly does not guarantee a common life experience. Differences of class, race, religion, and other factors shape a number of differing social types within each birth cohort. For instance, urban intellectuals are likely


to have little in common with farm boys and girls of the same nominal generation, no matter how closely their birthdays coincide. It is in fact these divergent world views, not a common birth date, nor even exposure to a common sociological environment -- which have real historical significance. As we shall see, it is precisely these "generation units," generational contemporaries sharing a common world view as well as a common social background, which have made the youth revolution of modern times a reality (Esler pg Xiii) Generations in the twentieth century

Generations Silent Generation Beat Generation Baby Boomers Generation Jones

1925–1942 1950s-1960s 1940s-1960s 1954–1965

Consciousness Revolution


Generation X 13th Generation MTV Generation Boomerang Generation

1960s–1980s 1961-1981 1974–1985 1977–1986

Culture Wars


Generation Y Millennial Generation Echo Boom Generation Internet Generation Generation @

1970s–1990s 1982-2000 1982–1995 1994–2001 1990s or 2000



Introduction As business struggle to come to terms with the multiple generations in their places of work and the conflict and communication barriers that detract from their performance a picture has emerged that encapsulated the distinct differences and similarities of generations in the workplace. This emerging picture clarifies the management mechanisms and processes we need to follow in order to maximise the potential of each generation in a unique fashion and will simplify the approaches managers and workplace leaders can follow. This book is written to provide information about the workplace generations and to suggest to the reader possible instruments, processes and mechanisms to use to facilitate a more productive workplace. The book deals with the concept of generations, the generational shift and the contributing factors as well as the mechanisms of generational shift. This book then goes on to deal with Generation Y, their impact on the workplace and the methods and mechanisms the reader can use to attract, retain and expand the potential of these young and vibrant workers.


The book then closes with recommendations regarding the holistic workplace and a tantalizing glimpse into the future of generational shift.


Generation Units The question now arises, what produces a generation unit? In what does the greater intensity of the bond consist in this case? The first thing that strikes one on considering any particular generation unit is the great similarity in the data making up the consciousness of its members. Mental data are of sociological importance not only because of their actual content, but also because they cause the individuals sharing them to form one group -- they have a socializing effect. The data as such, however, are not the primary factor producing a group -- this function belongs largely to those formative forces, which shape the data, and give them character and direction. From the casual slogan to a reasoned system of thought, from the apparently isolated gesture to the finished work of art, the same formative tendency is often at work -- the social importance of which lies in its power to connect individuals socially. The profound emotional import of a slogan, of an animated gesture, or of a work of art lies in the fact that we not simply absorb them as objective data, but also as vehicles of seminal propensity and fundamental integrative attitudes, thus identifying ourselves with a set of collective strivings.


Fundamental integrative attitudes and formative principles are allimportant also in the handing down of every tradition, firstly because they alone can bind groups together, secondly, and, what is perhaps even more important, they alone are really capable of becoming the basis of continuing practice. A mere statement of fact has a minimum capacity of initiating a continuing practice. Potentialities of an invariable thought process, on the other hand, are limited in every opinion that has real group-forming potency. Intuitions, feelings, and works of art, which create a spiritual community among people, also contain in themselves the potentially new manner in which the intuition, feeling, or work of art in question can be re-created, rejuvenated, and reinterpreted in novel situations. That is why unambiguousness, too great clarity, is not an unqualified common value; productive misconstruction is often a condition of continuing life. Primary integrative attitudes and formative principles are the primary socializing forces in the history of society, and it is necessary to live them fully in order really to participate in collective life. The social importance of these formative and interpretive principles is that they form a link between spatially separated individuals who may never come into personal contact at all. Whereas mere common "location" in a generation is of only potential significance,


a generation as an actuality is constituted when similarly "located" contemporaries participate in a common destiny and in the ideas and concepts which are in some way bound up with its unfolding. Within this community of people with a common destiny there can then arise particular generation-units. These are characterized by the fact that they do not merely involve a loose participation by a number of individuals in a pattern of events shared by all alike though interpreted by the different individuals differently, but an identity of responses, a certain affinity in the way in which all move with and are formed by their common experiences. Thus within any generation there can exist a number of differentiated,





constitute an "actual" generation precisely because they are oriented toward each other, even though only in the sense of fighting one another. A generation can be defined as a stage or degree in a succession of natural descent.

A generation has traditionally been defined as “the average interval of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring." This places a generation at around 20 years in span and this matches the generations up to and including the Baby Boomers. However, while in the past this has served sociologists well in analyzing generations, it is irrelevant today.


Firstly, because cohorts are changing so quickly in response to new technologies, changing career and study options, and because of shifting societal values, two decades is far too broad a generational span. Secondly, the time between birth of parents and birth of offspring has stretched out from two decades to more than three. Looking at Australian statistics, the median age of a woman having her first baby was 24 in 1976, while today it is just over 30. So, while the Boomers are the children of the Builders or Veterans, Gen Z are more than often the younger siblings of Gen Y – or the children of the late-breeding Gen X. In recent years, the median age of firsttime mothers throughout the western world has reached record highs. In Africa however the median age is 16 (Department of


Hygiene and Public Health, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Im Neunheimer Feld 324, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany)

which will result in an acceleration of

generational shift should the other indicators be present. We will deal with Africa as a special case later. Today a generation refers to a cohort of people born into and shaped by a particular span of time (events, trends and developments). Moreover the span of time has contracted significantly. More so than ever, the commonalities of today’s generations cut through global, racial/ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries. Due


largely to globalization made possible through the various technologies of today, a youth from Australia, the US, UK, Germany, Japan, Brazil or South Africa is shaped by the same events, trends and developments: they are equally concerned by global warming, and more of their generation are tertiary-educated than their parents and grandparents. Also, the population of many countries today is made up of diverse cultures and peoples, affected by the same events, trends and developments of the country they call home. Likewise, those living on Government pensions are aware of and shaped by the latter no differently than are celebrities and high-flyers.



Generational Shift Populist writing appears to indicate that there are clean lines of demarcation linking the ending of one generation and the emergence of the next, like a well-defined and formally identified metamorphosis. Nothing can be further from the truth. Research indicates that the conditions present in generation shift would build unpredictably over time and would contain the transmission systems to create the parallel in data making up the consciousness of its members. Socio-political events and the experience of the individuals are of lesser concern than the transmission systems that spread the conclusions world-wide. Music and art, free and uncensored access to information, television, and mass communication systems are of far greater concern and effect in the shifting of generations. An event of some significance may trigger expression in art or music, television and information systems. This in turn affects the thinking and perception of millions of people reached by the expression, which triggers the wide peer group discussions we see of significant events on the internet, the television, and the music. Triggering a slogan, a music genre, or a body of art makes it imperative for the participants in the generation to then absorb as objective data, but also as a vehicle of seminal tendencies and fundamental integrative attitudes, thus identifying ourselves with a


set of collective strivings. The disillusionment of Generation Y with the career pursuance of their parents, the perception of the meaningless striving for wealth and status at the cost of family and the genre that reflect this disillusionment is seen as a major contributing factor to the shift to generation Y.


The Transmission Systems Music In previous pages we have referred to the conditions and transmissions systems of generational shift. In the gradual build up to generational shift there invariably is societal discomfort that gains expression in various transmission systems. It is these expressions that become, through constant repetition, the slogans by which a new generation identifies itself. What started off as the expression of discomfort of a marginalized minority of black inner city dwellers in the nineteen eighties in America found resonance amoung millions of youth world-wide. The emergence of Hip Hop as a popular music genre has had a catalytic effect on the shift to generation y. In the 1990s, a form called “gangsta rap� became a major part of American music, causing significant controversy over lyrics which were perceived by some as promoting violence, promiscuity, drug use and misogyny. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the 2000s, hip hop became a staple of popular music charts and is now performed in widely varying styles around the world.


Television Television (the device) is a powerful tool of mass communication in part because of this wide appeal. It also provides much more information than radio (with its rich visual images), and requires less education in order to be understood than the print media (newspapers and magazines) do. Since its beginning, broadcasting has been used primarily as a marketing device in the United States, and due to the size of its audience, television is the most powerful of such devices ever invented. Since the early days of radio, broadcast media have served the primary function of providing an audience to advertisers. Television influences human behavior because there are "routes" or mechanisms whereby the content of television can have an effect on what we do, and on how we act. Thus, part of television's influence comes about because of how we learn (by observation and imitation), because of how we respond to certain kinds of story material (arousal/desensitization), and because of the structure of our inhibitions and the way television provides the kind of stimulation necessary to release them (disinhibition). We called these behavioural mechanisms, because for the most part the influence was shown on some activity. Television also influences what we believe and think about the world, and it does so, again, because of our make-up, our psychology. Just as the behavioural effects have behavioural mechanisms, the cognitive effects of


television have cognitive mechanisms based on the structure of attitudes, beliefs, and judgments, and on the way in which these cognitive structures are acquired. (Condry 120) Mainstream television because of the fleeting nature if the viewer’s attention will aim to reflect the content that captivates the most viewers. In a study done during the late eighties and early nineties children and young people were found to be the most frequent viewers of content together with those of lower socio-economic status. This leads the television programmers to focus heavily on the content that will captivate the most attention of those viewers. The music, the art, the world views of the viewers are expressed in the programming content, leading to an acceleration of the generational shift.

Radio Radio, in having a potential to reach millions of listeners in cars, on public transport, in the third world where television may not be prevalent and expressing the programming content as well as the music and the host personalities that reflect the prevailing culture has the potentiality to influence and accelerate the generational characteristics, slogans and methodologies of the shift.


Art Although Fine Art seems to be in decline as a cultural force, visual art has more power in culture now than it ever had. Visual art is not all Fine Art. There is a diversity of kinds of art in contemporary culture. Besides Fine Art, there is also Popular Art, Design Art, and advertising. What Fine Art does for us is just a small part of the total cultural value we get from art. As traditional culture recedes from memory, and technology changes our lifestyles, people look for new values and lifestyles. These new values and lifestyles are carried by the art broadcast to us over the mass media and on the products we buy. The mass-media arts define our heroes and tell us about the good. Advertisements define pleasure and lifestyle. With mass-market goods we dress our bodies and houses in art, thus using art to define who we are. These contemporary visual arts play a large part in shaping our values, fantasies, and lifestyles. (Josephson 2)


The Internet Tomorrow people of all ages will find a more harmonious continuum in their lives, because, increasingly, the tools to work with and the toys to play with will be the same. There will be a more common palette for love and duty, for self expression and group work. Similar claims issue forth from Howard Rheingold (1993) in The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier in which he sketches a world of connected individuals and groups. He tells us that online participants "exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and lose them, play games, flirt, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk" (p. 3). For Rheingold, virtual community denizens behave and converse just as they do in real life but leave their bodies behind. In describing life in such virtual communities, Rheingold also identifies the links between computer-supported networks and the ongoing projects of American democracy, economic prosperity, and literacy education. He argues that such computer networks can give power to ordinary people, enabling even a 10-year-old to "instantly obtain a bully pulpit; the Library of Congress, and a world of potential coconspirators"






according to Rheingold, is capable of re-invigorating public discourse and revitalizing the public sphere (p. 14). These representations of technology and literacy describe the overlapping system of social effects, cultural formations, practices, and attitudes within which Americans-and the inhabitants of countries influenced by American belief systems and economic systems-have come to understand and order the Web. The cultural elements associated with this framework are formulated to appeal to inhabitants of technologically developed countries that might benefit-economically and politically-from the global expansion of computer networks. Given this context, however, the interested nature of the Web cannot be revealed to citizens of western cultures. Rather-to justify the expense and investment associated with building the Internet infrastructure and to appeal on an ideological level to a sense of fair play and inclusion-the global network is portrayed as a culturally-neutral medium that has been built to support a larger global community, one that transcends the problems of race, geopolitical borders, national interest, and culturally specific values that hinder communication, free exchange, and shared understanding. In this electronic environment of rapid and disturbing social change where conventional social formations and institutions are being deconstructed, personal and group identity-as expressed through language and literacy practices-is, in Castells' words, "fast


becoming the main, and sometimes the only source of meaning‌. People increasingly organize their meaning not around what they do but on the basis of who they are, or believe they are" (Castells, 1996, p. 3), and they define their primary identities in their everyday literate practices within the networked society. This is a world in which conventional identities are challenged dramatically and fundamentally by the "placeless logic" (p. 358) and dizzying change associated with the new information age, and yet one in which citizens must nonetheless assemble online in electronic environments in order to facilitate the diffusion of their ideas, to participate in productive political involvement, and to extend their own "possibilities for interaction and debate" (p. 350).



Understanding the Differences Traditional Generation A Traditional Generation employee’s focus on advancement with a view toward the past can place an employee of this generation in a difficult situation. Wanting improvements in business, yet being cautious of untried initiatives may be interpreted as a reluctance to change. Medical concerns and untreated depression can have a devastating effect on the older worker’s ability to remain at work or concentrate when at work. This generation has seen tremendous changes in the workplace: gender and racial equality initiatives, drug-free workplace rules and changes in organizational structure from hierarchical to horizontal management. Confusion about their role in the organization and a perceived disrespect for their historical knowledge of the industry and the organization can contribute to a lack of engagement. Feeling respected for their contributions and historical knowledge is important for this group of employees, who would prefer not to be marginalized as ineffective because they may lack the teamorientation or technological skills of later generations. It is important not to undervalue the workplace opportunities offered by this generation’s employees. Logic, attention to detail and









development and implementation of products and services. The workplace challenges for this group are less likely to be related to following directives, even if these employees do not agree with the direction, policy, or process. In addition to the workplace issues facing the general employee population, the older worker will more likely struggle at work with: •

presenteeism related to medical issues or depression

absence related to medical concerns

respect for diversity

consequences of their lifestyle behaviours, including the effects of smoking and alcoholism

Baby Boomers With a preference for face-to-face interaction, conflict avoidance and consensus decision making and a tendency toward selfabsorption, Baby Boomers created office politics. Opposed to the command-and-control management styles of their bosses from earlier generations, Baby Boomers ushered in group decision making and a focus on the process, not the policy or procedure. Valuing personal gratification and seeking high achievement, Boomers provide the energy to get a project and team noticed. They will dedicate 100 percent of themselves to what they perceive


to be the project at hand and will expect nothing less from anyone else. The workplace challenges for this group are less likely to be related to team building and group decision making. In addition to the workplace issues facing the general employee population, the Baby Boomer worker will more likely struggle at work with: •

the non-traditional work styles of Generation X and Generation Y

technology replacing human interaction

sharing praise and rewards

balancing work and family

practicing what they preach

Generation X The non-traditional attitudes toward work that Generation X members characteristically hold may create a perception that these employees






Generation X has learned that personal loyalty and commitment to a company does not translate into job security, resulting in frequent job changing. Likewise, companies with entrenched management practices that focus on time on the job, with rigid organizational structure and hierarchies, that stress quantity over quality and that discount work/family balance, combined with poor management connections and lack of opportunity for professional growth may


create serious job dissatisfaction. This can translate into conflict with co-workers and management, and lead to job turnover. Cross-generational






managers, is not uncommon. Boomers with their micromanaging style and aversion to conflict can clash with Gen Xers who may be more direct and skilled in conflict management. Generation Y, whose members need more time for supervision and understanding of the workplace, compete with Gen Xers’ need for connection to their managers. In Generation X, we see a highly independent, outspoken, adaptable, and fearless group of employees who can move your company forward with their ability to lead by example, their competence, and their willingness to take risks necessary for corporate growth. The workplace challenges for this group are less likely to be related to independent project management or leadership. In addition to the workplace issues facing the general employee population, the Gen X worker will more likely struggle at work with: •

career development

conflict resolution and office politics

multigenerational team projects

balancing work and family


Generation Y Generation Y


been described as

the best


generation—and they know it. However, the quality of the education is not always reflected in grammar and spelling; they often use phonetic spelling to speed the process of written communication. This perceptive group of young workers will negotiate for salary and benefits without offering much in return commitment. Largely, this group of young workers craves and seeks out change and innovation, immediate response, teamwork and frequent reward and recognition. They

are expressive and socially

responsible and want to make a positive impact on the organization they work with and the communities they live and work in. In Generation Y, we see a highly expressive, over-confident and relatively self-absorbed risk-taking group of young employees who will move your organization forward with their creativity, innovation, global perspective, inclusiveness, and immediacy. These are powerful energies to harness and transform. The “live for today” mindset characteristic of Generation Y workers can have a negative impact on a young worker’s present and future circumstances. Credit problems from unplanned and spontaneous spending, accidents, unsafe health behaviours and legal problems related to episodes of impulsive violence, risk taking and substance


use are very real risks for these young employees—and their employers. The workplace challenges for this group are less likely to be related to adapting to change and sexual harassment. In addition to the workplace issues facing the general employee population, the young worker will more likely struggle at work with: •

absence related to lifestyle decisions

respectful communication

functional literacy

the consequences of their lifestyle or risk-taking behaviours

contributions to team efficiencies

commitment to business

attention span

consistent performance

personal interaction

conflict management


Managing the generations at work Managing the mixture of ages, faces, values, and views is an increasingly difficult task. In their book Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace, authors Zemke, Raines and Filipczak describe it as “diversity management at its most challenging.” How do successful companies handle this dilemma? According to Generations at Work, they build non-traditional workplaces, exhibit flexibility, emphasize respectful relationships, and focus on retaining talented employees. Zemke, Raines, and Filipczak recommend five ways to avoid confusion and conflict at work: •

Accommodate employee differences. Treat your employees as you do your customers. Learn all you can about them, work to meet their specific needs and serve them according to













balance issues, and non-traditional lifestyles. •

Create workplace choices. Allow the workplace to shape itself around the work being done, the customers being served and the people who work there. Shorten the chain of command and decrease bureaucracy.

Operate for a sophisticated management style. Give those who report to you the big picture, specific goals and


measures. Then turn them loose. Give them feedback, rewards and recognition as appropriate. •

Respect competence and initiative. Treat everyone, from the newest recruit to the most seasoned employee, as if they have great things to offer and are motivated to do their best. Hire carefully to assure a good match between people and work.


Nourish retention. Keeping valuable employees is every bit as important in today’s economy as finding and retaining customers. Offer lots of training, from one-on-one coaching sessions, to interactive computer-based classes, to an extensive and varied classroom curriculum. Encourage lots of lateral movement and broader assignments.


A summary of generational differences Values Traditional Generation Conformity, authority, and rules. Logical, Defined sense of right and wrong, Loyalty and respect for authority Baby Boomer Generation Personal gratification, Equality, Health and wellness. Personal relationships. Seek self-improvement or hobby-related learning opportunities. Generation X Independence, Honesty Work/life balance, Prefer informality Family/friend relationships important.

Generation Y Self-expression, Marketing and branding, Respect must be earned.


Attributes Traditional Generation Disciplined and stable. View an under-standing of history as a way to plan. Dislike conflict. Detail oriented. Baby Boomer Generation Optimistic. View the world as theirs. Attention seeking, Spiritual, always seeking to improve understanding of themselves. Relatively self-absorbed. Traditional male/female roles shared. Avoidance of conflict. Service oriented. Generation X Reliable, Survivors, Sceptical, Always asking “why� to understand the purpose of a decision, plan or process, Technologically savvy. Generation Y Adapt rapidly. Crave change and challenge. Create constantly. Exceptionally resilient when interested in a plan or project. Committed and loyal when dedicated to an idea, cause or product. Accept others of diverse backgrounds easily and openly. Global in perspective.


Work Style Traditional Generation Consistency and uniformity. Seek out technological advancements. Past oriented. Command and control leadership style. Prefer hierarchical organizational structures and will continue to view horizontal structure in a hierarchical way. Effort is rewarded at some point. Baby Boomer Generation Seek







Achievement oriented. “Workaholics�; may have difficulty balancing work and home and little understanding of those who seek work/life balance. Process more important than result. Work ethic = worth ethic. May be perceived as disingenuous—difficulty practicing what they preach. Generation X Work very well independently, little patience for office politics, Will make every effort to complete a project or task, but will not be taken advantage of, Adaptable. Not intimidated by authority


Generation Y Want to know how what they do fits into the big picture, and need to understand how everything fits together. View work as an expression of self. Exceptional multi-taskers, Seek active versus passive involvement, less likely to seek managerial or team leadership




in work



environment and dress code, Expect corporate social responsibility. Expect everything instantly, everything now Effort can be separated from reward Seek to balance lifestyle and work, with more focus on lifestyle

Management Techniques Traditional Generation Demonstrate respect for their experience and knowledge of the past. Reward employees for effort and a job well done in tangible ways窶馬ote from manager, nice pen, etc. Invite older workers to mentor younger workers, especially Gen Y workers; this can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship of helping to understand the big picture and instructing on the use of new technologies. Provide feedback in person not through e-mail or voicemail. Ask questions. Make sure these employees have the training they need and feel comfortable asking questions. Traditional Generation employees not likely to ask for help for fear of appearing incompetent or generating conflict.


Baby Boomer Generation Focus on individual contributions that make the organization successful Identify ways in which the individual is a unique contributor Express the value the individual provides to the organization Develop a relationship with the employee and allow opportunities to work in groups to plan projects and processes Praise publicly and create opportunities for others to praise the individual Generation X Allow the Gen X employee to work on multiple projects, of their choosing if possible, and prioritize their time Allow independent work Confirm that you understand and appreciate life outside of work and help your employee balance work and home Provide feedback often Be consistent in administering policies and providing rewards and recognition Show Gen Xers how they can leverage office politics to obtain their goals Generation Y Invite participation, ideas and independence—micromanaging is not appreciated! Ask questions. Make sure these employees have the training they

need and feel comfortable asking questions.

Generation Y employees are less likely to ask for help for fear of appearing incompetent, but they want to do a good job. Be a


mentor—coach new employees on how their creativity and work produces meaningful results to the big picture Provide immediate feedback Focus on the individual and their personal lives—this generation wants your interest and approval Involve these employees in decisions that affect their work and employment to every extent possible


Generation Y Defined Generation Y is a term designating a cohort of people born immediately after "Generation X" and is only one of several terms used to describe roughly the same group of people. There is however no consensus as to the exact range of birth years that constitutes "Generation Y. The only consensus, by way of its relation to the term "Generation X," is that those born in Generation Y








demographic, business, and governmental sources have used their own specific parameters for who constitutes Generation Y, but there is by no means one accepted definition. The use of the term is also controversial and synonyms are often used in discourse or in published works. As the term "Generation X" was coined primarily to describe the post Baby Boomer generation in the United States and Canada, some people use "Generation Y" only to refer to Americans, Canadians, and other Anglophone people who were born after Generation X. We suggest that such regional restrictions of use are unnecessary in the ever globalizing world. As generations are defined not by formal process, but rather by demographers, the press and media, popular culture, market researchers, and by members of the generation themselves, there is no precise consensus as to which birth years constitute


Generation Y. For instance, while the periodical American Demographics typically uses 1976 to demarcate the start of Generation Y, the demographers

Howe and Strauss


consistently used "the High School class of 2000", or those born in 1982 as their demarcation. While many possible years are used as the endpoint of Generation Y, the term is almost never applied to current infants, who are parts of a possible generation@. Due to the flexible nature of such demographic terms, two people of the same birth year can identify as Generation X, Y, or something that follows Y, such as the New Silent Generation and neither is wrong. Because the term Generation Y suggests "following Generation X", and because the term Generation X was originally coined as a pejorative term, use of the term Generation Y is controversial. Numerous terms have been coined as alternatives to Generation Y, or to describe subjects of the cohort. "Millennials" is a very commonly used alternative by the popular press in South Africa and Worldwide. If the years 1978-2000 are used, as is common in market research, then the size of Generation Y in the South Africa alone is approximately 4.5 million. Commonly cited theories as to the best name and year range for Generation Y are mentioned below.


Controversy: attempts to name and demarcate The term Generation Y first appeared in an August 1993 editorial to describe those children born between 1984 -1994. The scope of the term has changed greatly since then, to include, in many cases, anyone born as late as 2001. There is still no precise definition of years. Use of the term Generation Y (often shortened to Gen Y or Ygen) to describe any cohort of individuals is controversial for a variety of reasons. "Generation Y" alludes to a succession from "Generation X", a term which was originally coined as a pejorative label. The use of Gen Y as a term not only implies that the generation is merely an extension or continuation of Generation X, and not a distinct generation in its own right, but also makes a comment on the character of that generation, as in "Generation Why?" which is pejorative in its own way. Generation Y has also been thought to be the "spark" of the future to come or maybe just the tail end of the baby boomers time frame. Numerous alternative terms have arisen that may sometimes be regarded as sub-groups of Generation Y. These include The Net Generation, Reagan Babies, Millennials, Echo Boomers, and iGeneration, Second Baby Boom, the D.A.R.E. Generation, Google Generation, MySpace Generation, MyPod Generation (from the fusion of “MySpace” and “iPod”, Generation Next, Grand Theft Auto Generation, Nintendo Generation, the Halo Generation, Me


Generation and the Cynical Generation. A Dutch newspaper also referred to this generation as the Einstein Generation, referring to the ability of the general member of this generation to perform many activities at the same time. Examples of this are chatting with friends via internet, while also doing their homework and watching TV at the same time. While Generation Y


to that



relationship to Generation X, the term Echo Boomers is used to allude to the generation's close tie to the primary childbearing years of Baby Boomers; the term Second Baby Boom is also used in this way and to denote the population expansion that Generation Y represents. The terms Millennials and Internet generation are attempts to give the Gen Y cohort more independent names that are tied with key events and cultural trends that are strongly associated with the generation. No single term is the "correct" term to describe members of this generation.


Howe and Strauss: "The Millennials" Following the publication of their book, Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069, much credit has been given to the names used for various American cohorts by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe. Howe and Strauss use the term "Millennials" as opposed to "Generation Y," arguing that members of Gen Y actually coined the term Millennials themselves and have statistically expressed a wish not to be associated closely with Gen X. They followed up their large study of the history of American demographics with a new book specifically on Gen Y, titled Millennials Rising In Generations, Howe and Strauss use the years 1982-2000 as the birth years of Generation Y, using the 18 childhood years of the high school graduating class of 2000 as their marking points. They reasoned that the high school class of 2000 received notable public attention and political initiatives during their youth that provided a contrast between Americans born before this class and those born after. This is also true in most other countries not at war during this period. The effect of war on a generation is a subject for study at anouther time but suffice it to say that war affects the emergence of particular generational characteristics severely and therefore any country at war during the period of the emergence of a “new� generation will show markedly different generational characteristics.


It is also reasoned that the 1977 date used for GenY is because births worldwide began to rise again, after falling all through the 1960s and 1970s. But the average fertility per woman remained low. The rise was just due to the first wave of Boomers having kids. The increase in desire to have kids does not appear until the mid 1980s when Boomers began to control the child's world to shape Millennials. (Strauss and Howe Lifecourse Associates 2003) This increasing desire for kids in the 1980s is the real reason how Millennials began in the 1980s rather than the late 1970s. Another interesting factor supporting the term GenY would be when late wave Xers (born1977-1981), were just entering school, adults were beginning to reinvent societal shields that once protected children and this late wave serve as precursors of the wanted-baby Millennials. (Strauss and Howe 13th Gen Abort Retry Ignore Fail 1993). These last wave Xers have contributed to the recent fall in youth crime and risk and pioneered trends of greater economic optimism, higher educational ambitions. (Strauss and Howe Millennials Rising 2000). Also important in differing these last-wave kids from the X is their dislike of Gen X angst and the stereotypes associated with being X. This points support for the GenY term and how they identify more with Millennials. Internet generation In his book Growing up Digital, business strategist and psychologist Don Tapscott coined the term "Net Generation" for the group,


pointing at the significance of being the first to grow up immersed in a digital--and Internet--driven world. Accordingly, some say the final year of Gen Y is between 1993 and 2000 because they would be the youngest people to appreciate the changes of the Digital Revolution. September 11, 2001 Some have argued that the September 11, 2001 attacks provide a single marquee event that can be used to demarcate the end of Generation Y, as its events symbolize a major dynamic shift in world view for many Americans. The way in which individuals view the significance of this date demographically, however, is not universal. Some argue that September 10, 2001 should be the final date used in labeling children born then or prior as "Generation Y". Others, however, suggest that it is not being born before the 11th, but rather being born early enough to be cognizant of the events of that day, that matters. These people therefore typically argue that some year in the late 1990s, such as 1997, would be the most appropriate ending year for the Generation Y and starting year for the as yet unnamed "Generation @," or "New Silent Generation." Still others disagree, and propose breaking up Generation Y into subcategories in order to recognize the generation bearing witness to these events and sent to fight its subsequent wars. If the War on Terrorism should continue to broaden, and especially if it should some day result in a formal draft, then this generation may well be


identified by this conflict. Others still, disagree that 9/11 will not be a polarizing event in their lives, in a decade to be largely forgotten outside of the northeastern US, and viewed as a generational tragedy on par with Generation X's Challenger tragedy. MTV Generation Individuals born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at times identified as an overlap group of both Generation X and Generation Y, are referred to as the MTV Generation. Defining moments In







demographers often rely on the experience of formative national events as one tool to demarcate various generations. Generations are shaped by their childhood experiences, and then defined by their







consciously adopt or reject the attitudes or actions of prior generations. Notably, the experience of the Great Depression and World War II are a major way of defining the formative years of the so-called "G.I. Generation," also known at times as the "Greatest Generation." In turn, the experiences of the Moon Landing, assassination of JFK, and the 1960s social revolution are key events that demarcate the formative years of the "Baby Boomer" generation.


Several such events have been used as ways of defining Generation Y.

The fall of the Soviet Union and the First Gulf War are both midway events for members of Generation Y, occurring in 1991, as many members were old enough to remember these events as children, but many had not yet been born.

The widespread use of personal computers and the Internet is an event shared by the majority of Gen Y. Taking off during the period 1996-2001, most members of this generation spent at least part of their youth with a home computer and internet access, and members of this Generation use the Internet as a tool for socialization more so than previous generations.

The date of the September 11 attacks is an often proposed end-point for the generation. Those that were not yet born in 2001 and those that were otherwise too young to remember and/or understand the events of that day (about 1997 up) would thus be grouped into Generation Z or what Cryderman defines as the iGeneration as they would have no memory whatsoever of the 20th Century and any predigital technologies still around in the Nineties. Meanwhile, people who were still in school (or had recently graduated) would be called Generation Y. Such propositions, of course, remain disputed.

Afghanistan and the Iraq War, as well as the "War on Terror" may become the conflicts that define Gen Y, akin to World War


II for the GI Generation and the Vietnam War for the Baby Boomers. Generational demographics Many in Generation Y are the children of Baby Boomers, and the generation is also known as the "Echo (Boom) generation," because it is, in some areas, the largest demographic grouping since the baby boom that immediately followed World War II (the U.S. birth rate per 1,000 population, however, declined for seven consecutive years starting in 1991 — the second longest such streak on record, exceeded only by the eleven-year baby bust of 1958 through 1968). Most parents of the members of Generation Y are from the Baby Boomer or older Silent generations; some from Generation Jones; significantly fewer parents are from Generation X (mostly kids born in 1993 or later). Their grandparents are mostly from the G.I. Generation, with some older Silents. While the echo was much larger than the previous cohorts, the relative size of this generation is much smaller than that of the Baby Boom. The American population was much larger in the 1990s than in the 1950s or '60s. From 1946 to 1964, the U.S. total fertility rate averaged 3.3 — high enough to double the population every two generations. Since around 1980, it has averaged 1.9, which is below the so-called replacement rate, though in recent years it has moved slightly above 2.0. Families continued to get smaller than in previous decades, usually with only one or two children.


The Echo Boom the actual “Echo Boom� was a five year span between 1989 and 1993 when for the first time since 1964, the number of live births reached over four million. Previously, even the rate of 1965 (3.76 million) was not reached until 1985. Also it should be noted that the birthrate of 1971 (17.2%) has yet to be reached according to the 2000 census. Relationship with other living generations Generation Y are primarily children of the Baby Boomers, though some are children of what Howe and Strauss refer to as the Silent Generation or are children of older Gen X adults. Because of this, there is a perceived tendency to share social views with the Boomers and culture with Gen X, who serve chiefly as their 'older cousins' or even older siblings. New market research, however, contradicts this. Commenting on the Nightly Business Report in February 2007, William Strauss, cofounder of Life Course Associates, made the following assessment: "The generation of today's young adults under 25 and teenagers most resemble are the dying GI generation, the people who are the foot soldiers in World War II and the Rosie Riveters. (The ladies in overalls – with rosy cheeks that are shown working in factories)


That was the generation that was known for its civic purpose and teamwork and upbeat attitudes and institutional trust. The fact that they are dying means that we have this perceived need in our society for something to replace that. And what is that this is how today's young Millennials can rebel, like being like that generation and stepping into that void. And so rather than being echo boomers, they're anti-boomers. They see the problems of the world as being associated with the downside that they perceive in their own older parents, and so they want to fix that. And the things that the boomers have been associated with, like individualism, things that Xers have been associated with, like taking things to the edge, these young kids are pushing back from." A notable demographic shift should begin to occur in 2011 when the oldest Baby Boomers (b. 1946) hit the legal retirement age of 65. As Boomers retire, more members of Generation X will be expected to take roles in middle and upper management and the large membership of Generation Y should take up positions in the lower half of the workforce, a process which could have possibly begun since some definitions have members of Gen Y in their late 20s.


Global Differences United States Most have few memories of the Cold War (apart from perhaps action movies, toys, or video games with such themes) and came of age during the technology-driven changes in the years of President Bill Clinton and President George W Bush in the United States and Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki in South Africa. They were the first to grow up with the Internet in a developed, prolific form, including music downloads, instant messaging and cellular phones, which came to fruition at about 1997. Even before they could type and mouse-click their way through the Internet, they grew up with modern media choices: television remotes to encourage channel flipping; Cable, with its wealth of channels among which to switch; and multiple TVs (with video recorders and video game systems) in a household. These TV choices reduced the commonality (and centralized control) of the viewing experience. The 'Who Shot J.R.' (Ewing of the TV series Dallas) experience is dispersed in both places (all the family around the TV, repeated across all households in the time zone) as well as in time (video recorders). Similarly, DVD popularity and large-screen home TVs have dispersed the impact of TV/movie events, while viewer voting shows like American Idol have made media more interactive. Other recent social changes include immigration and developments in race relations. Generation Y members are generally tolerant


towards multiculturalism and internationalism. It is also not uncommon for post-1970s-born children to date people outside their race or ethnic group, as well as having a wide range in friends. This growing trend towards interracial relationships sometimes causes friction with their parents or elders, who grew up in a society where interracial romance was considered taboo and even banned in a number of states until the late 1960s. The state of Alabama formally repealed its anti-miscegenation laws only in 2000. As well, many

people in this

group are themselves

multiracial in

background, and this is also a considerable change from previous generations. Opinions on Gay rights and gender roles are also being adjusted and redefined as each generation emerges into adulthood. Generation Y is known for having among the most wide-ranging opinions on such issues, possibly because they haven't yet encountered a personal situation where their actions/reactions cause them to consciously choose sides. Most American youth are largely tolerant of sexual minorities; the frequent depiction of sexual minorities in pop culture may have largely desensitized them to a previously taboo topic. However, Generation Y tends to be more spiritual and religious than their parents, and discourse on social issues exists between the more liberal and more conservative members of Generation Y. With Generations X and Y in their childbearing years, situations related to these topics will become more observable, hence generationally coherent opinions may become


clearer: to adopt or attempt to change then the policies of their Silent and Boomer parents. This generation was the subject of much concern during the 1990s. The Columbine High School shooting, youth participation in street gangs, hate groups, and problems such as teen pregnancy fueled a wave of action by schools and other organizations, despite youth violence, teen pregnancies, etc. falling sharply throughout the 1990s and into the twenty-first century. The 2004 Presidential election was the first election in which Generation Y was able to vote in significant numbers. Of the votes cast by those aged 18-29, John Kerry got 54%; George W. Bush got 46%. The election of Barack Obama is a wonderful case in demonstrating the power of Generation Y as more than 80% of this generation voted for him and were fully engaged in the technology like Face book and Twitter during the election Europe and Asia In many rich countries, the 1980s and 1990s were a period of rapidly falling birthrates. In Southern Europe and Japan, and less markedly in Northern and Eastern Europe, Generation Y is dramatically smaller than any of its predecessors, and its childhood years tended to be marked by small families, both immediate and extended, small classes at school and school closures. In the Soviet Union during the 1980s, there was a "baby boom echo"


similar to that in the United States, and Generation Y there is relatively large; however, birth rates fell through the floor in the 1990s to extremely low levels. This meant a lot of individual attention from parents in a period in which society was becoming intrinsically more risk averse. The child poverty rate was still relatively high in many Western countries throughout the 1980s and '90s. The increasing stratification of wealth in many societies has led to an increase in the societal differences between poor and rich members of this generation. Although many middle class and wealthier families arrange many extra-curricular activities for their children, less affluent families cannot afford such extras, increasing the pressure on their own children. Since much of the generational character is tied to the prevalence of "extracurriculars" and relatively expensive technologies such as computers, some feel that the description of the generation only applies to wealthy members or at least the broadly middle class. In Eastern Europe, Generation Y is the first generation without mature memories of communism or dictatorial rule. In newly rich countries such as South Korea or Greece, Generation Y has known nothing but developed world standards of living, while their grandparents often grew up in developing world conditions, causing considerable social changes and inter-generational difficulties as the young reject many traditional ways of life.


Africa In many African countries, the 1980s and 1990s were a period of rapidly rising birthrates. Africa experienced a rapid rise in single parent families as the HIV Aids pandemic worsened across the continent and children had to take leading roles in the preservation of family. This meant a lack of individual attention from parents in a period in which society was becoming intrinsically more risk averse. The child poverty rate was still very high in many African countries throughout the 1980s and '90s. The increasing stratification of wealth in many societies has led to an increase in the societal differences between poor and rich members of this generation. Although many middle class and wealthier families arrange many extra-curricular activities for their children, less affluent families cannot afford such extras, increasing the pressure on their own children. Since much of the generational character is tied to the prevalence of "extracurriculars" and relatively expensive technologies such as computers, some feel that the description of the generation only applies to wealthy members or at least the broadly middle class and will exclude many African countries by virtue of their economic state and the nature of their political circumstance. In South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, Generation Y is the first generation without mature memories of racial segregation or


dictatorial rule. The advent of Affirmative Action and the upgrade of educational systems as well as the distribution of wealth to the “new” black middle class all of which are the beneficiaries of affirmative action themselves lead to the increase in expectations amoung the Generation Y group. Black economic empowerment strategies by governments across Africa forcibly removing wealth from traditional “white” businesses and families in an attempt to reverse the effects of previous despotic regimes also had a distortive effect on the generation Y expectations. On the one end, beneficiaries of these strategies, increased the effect of the expectations of the group to many times its realistic value and on the other end, targets of the legislation started showing the effects of having less expectations than normal amoung the generation Y groupings. While the rest of the world has the comfort of working with relatively defined characteristics of the generation Y group, countries like South Africa have to cope with distinctly different groupings








characteristics remain relatively similar the two groups within the South African context may have differing applications within the workplace. Generation Y was also the first generation in countries like India and China to benefit from western modern amenities due to liberalization of their economies.


Trends/problems As with previous generations, many problems began to surface as Generation Y came of age. •

Underage drinking and illicit drug use is prevalent among high school and college age members of Generation Y. In urban areas, rave culture was known for its influence on Ecstasy usage. Marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and inhalants seem to be most favored. Drug usage prevails even in spite of (and, in some cases, because of) most Gen Y members undergoing programs such as various Drug Abuse Resistance programmes in some shape or form during childhood.However, statistically, today's teens are less likely to smoke, drink, do illegal drugs, get pregnant, commit a crime, or drop out of school than their parents in the 1970s.


The illegal use of legal prescription medications is an emerging trend of Generation Y, including the appearance of "Pharming parties" where youths trade, share, and try each other's prescription medications.


Generation Y is prescribed, in relative terms, a much greater






generations, with many Generation Y-ers prescribed antidepressants and other behavior-altering drugs like Ritalin, which has existed since the 1950s but was seldom


prescribed before the early 1990s based on evidence supporting its pharmacological etymology prior to the 1990s. It is interesting to note that Generation Y is more depressed and world-aware than any previous generation, which has led to Generation Y gaining a stereotype as the "sad generation." •

Childhood obesity is another health problem that has plagued Generation Y, and X to a lesser extent before them. In response, many local schools have started to remove junk food from school cafeterias in an effort to reverse this trend. Notably, Generation X is the first generation to have junk food readily available in schools, with junk or overly processed foods being commonplace for Generation Y. In Victoria, Australia, there are laws that restrict the purchase of junk food at canteens


government schools to eight times a year. •

Members of this generation are facing increased costs for higher education than previous generations.


As members of Generation Y begin to enter colleges and universities in large numbers, some of their Baby Boomer parents are becoming helicopter parents. Many college advisors and administrators worry that this could have a negative effect on Generation Y's social progress, ego, and developing maturity.[



A common trend between GenYer's is the lack of mathematical skills, due to abundant use of calculators and computers.



Firsts Technology This generation was the first generation to use or witness the following technology from an early age: •

The Internet, especially the World Wide Web, in a more prolific form for the general user ('consumer'-friendly) rather than technically oriented. (about 1995 onwards)

PCs with modern operating systems and mouse-based point-and-click GUIs, requiring fewer keyboard skills. (late 1980s and onwards)

Sophisticated computer graphics in many video games, animated movies and television shows. (late 80's to mid 90's) (and the related non-keyboard interfaces)

Digital cable (mid 90's and onwards)

Cellular phones. (late '90s and onwards)

Instant messaging. (late 90's and onwards)

DVDs (1997 and onwards)

Digital Audio Players (MP3 players), especially Apple Computer's iPod (2001 and onwards)


TiVo and other such DVR devices. (1999 and onwards)

HDTV (2001 and onwards)

Broadband Internet (early 2000s)

Digital Cameras (early 2000s)

Robotic and digital pets ( 1990s-Tamagotchi, Furby/2000sRobosapien (V2,V3), Aibo, Poo-chi, i-Dog, Pixel Chix, Neopets, Webkinz)

Camera phones (early 2000s)

Text messaging (early 2000s in the U.S.)

Electronic Social Networking (2000s)

GPS (2000s)

Multi-use multimedia devices (2000s)

Satellite radio (2003 and onwards)

Online gaming (1999 and onwards)

Mainstream Usage of Touch Screens (mid 2000s)

Culture These are the events that this generation experienced while coming of age: •

The demise of the Berlin Wall

The Tiananmen Square Massacre

The Skateboarding movement of the 90's

The Rwandan Genocide and Kosovo Conflict

The First Gulf War.

The end of Apartheid in South Africa

The O.J. Simpson murder case.

The death of Princess Diana.

The return of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China


Great economic prosperity in the 1990s buoyed by the Dotcom bubble

War in Bosnia and Kosovo

Nirvana (band) and the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994.

The new millennium and 21st century.

The Y2K bug.

The September 11 Terrorist Attacks

The global War on Terror

The wave of accounting scandals in 2002 and widespread recession

The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster

The X Prize and beginning of personal spaceflight.

The War in Iraq

The Darfur Conflict

The West Nile Virus outbreak

The SARS epidemic in Spring 2003.

The Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

The onset of Bird flu.

The post-Soviet crash of the Russian economy

The rise of Newly Industrialized Countries: China, India, Mexico and South Africa.


The 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

General Tendencies Generation Y has been deeply affected by several trends of the 1990s and 2000s: a renewed focus on children, family, scheduled and structured lives, multiculturalism, terrorism, heroism, patriotism, parent advocacy, and globalization. Coincidentally, Gen Y has been socialized with several core messages: be smart--you are special, leave no one behind, achieve now, and serve your community (Raines, 2002). It tends to ignore traditional media and advertising channels, play video games, and watch DVDs rather than listed TV programming. Those in Gen Y tend to live with their parents before college, plan to return to their parents' home after college, and are less at home in the real world than in the virtual world--in which they spend more than six hours a day online. One-third of 21-year olds are not Caucasian. A similar number is being raised by single parents, and three-quarters have working mothers. Perhaps reflecting the age, Gen Y tends to want to connect with its parents rather than rebel. As consumers, Gen Y is likely to be independent and not brand loyal. Traditional at home, it tends to be nontraditional and sophisticated in the marketplace (Weiss, 2003). Gen Y's entrance in to the workplace would seem to present many opportunities in today's ever-more competitive organizations in which high-performing workers are an asset, and demographic shifts point to impending labor (Eisner).


Gen Y's entrance to the workforce seems to present some challenges. Although Gen Y workers tend to be more positive than Gen X about working in general, Gen Y tends to be less satisfied than Gen X with their jobs and employers. The survey described earlier in this paper pinpoints several dimensions of that dissatisfaction. Further, Gen Y is more open than Gen X to leaving for something better (What You Need to Know, 2003). Gen Y is likely to equate job satisfaction with a positive work climate, flexibility, and the opportunity to learn and grow more than any prior generation. Compared with other generations, Gen Y tends to have less










accomplishment. It is likely to trade more pay for work it feels is meaningful at a company where it feels appreciated (Alati, 2004). Gen Y










Acknowledgement and freedom to perform as it finds best tend to matter to Gen Y, too (Dealing with Your New Generational Mix, 2004). Additionally, Gen Y workers are likely to dislike menial work, lack skills for dealing with difficult people, and be impatient (Raines, 2002). Less than half of this youngest generation describe themselves as confident or prepared to enter the workforce. Their strong technical skills are not matched by strong soft skills such as listening, communicating, and independent thinking, being a team player, and managing time (Pekala, 2001). Mercer Human Resource Consultant's 2002 People at Work Survey found Gen Y rating employers lower than other employees do on being treated


fairly, getting necessary cooperation from others, and having opportunity to do interesting and meaningful work (The Next Generation, 2003). Moreover, Gen Y workers tend to look for instant gratification rather than long-term investments of time and effort (Southard and Lewis, 2004). In addition to demanding immediate rewards, they are likely to prefer special projects rather than "dues-paying chores." They often prefer being given time off to receiving money; putting in face time tends to puts them off. Accustomed to coming, going, and staying as needed, and being involved when present, Gen Y workers tend to be constant negotiators and questioners. As one author describes it, "The forty hour workweek doesn't apply ... (and) 'how'







Intergenerational management expert Bruce Tulgan describes the resulting challenges of Gen Y workers this way: "Gen Y'ers are like X'ers on steroids ... They are the most high-maintenance generation to ever enter the work force" (Breaux, 2003).


In the workplace Raised in comfort and with the Internet, this generation expects work to have deeper personal meaning and to have multiple persona in their daily lives. Nick Johnson, a Senior Consultant at Bain Partners, a Multi National consulting firm, remembers just a decade ago when he was looking for a job, how most graduates would have given almost anything for a top-paying spot at a big-name investment bank or consulting firm. It was taken for granted that to climb the corporate ladder they would all work 80-plus-hour weeks. That is beginning to change. Increasingly, "today, graduates ask: 'what can your firm do for me' to help them lead a more purposeful and meaningful life," says Johnson. Such a dramatic attitudinal shift toward work will have far-reaching implications for society. Gen Y is one of the most closely watched age groups because it's among the largest -- almost three times the size of Generation X. Born from 1977 to 1997, they're millions strong and are also known as echo boomers because they're the closest in population size to the baby boomers. With both parents working and more disposable income than previous generations, Gen Y has often been branded as an overindulged, spoiled, and disengaged group that looks at the world


through a prism of self-interest. Having grown up with the Internet, also the first generation is completely comfortable with technology. Marketing experts say Gen Y groups lack attention spans and absorb information in very short chunks. Beyond Materialism.

As the Gen Y-ers begin to marry, have families, and confront the challenges of parenting and career juggling, experts believe they will bring radically different demands and attitudes to the workplace than did previous generations. Maria T. Bailey, CEO of marketing firm BSM Media and author of Trillion Dollar Moms, says they will definitely work more on their own terms. She also believes that their command of technology and having experienced affluence so early in life puts them in a unique position to negotiate those demands. Ironically, that affluence has given many of them a bad reputation, especially with the conspicuous consumption associated with the likes of the Paris Hilton-Nicole Richie set. Still, for many, comfort has led to a move beyond materialism, because it means they can focus on improved goals. "They have experienced personal prosperity and already have their trusts, so they can now turn to social issues," says Bailey.


Others agree. This is a generation whose career choices and behaviour are driven, first and foremost, by their quest for opportunities to play meaningful roles in work that helps others, say authors Bruce Tulgan and Carolyn A. Martin in their book Managing Generation Y. In essence, they want to be "paid volunteers," joining an organization not because they have to, but because they really want to, because something significant is happening there. Straighter Arrows.

Members of this generation volunteer in their communities more than any other in the world’s history. Teen sexual activity is on the decline, and virginity is on the rise according to international research. Teens now form the most religious age group in the world, and their participation in church groups rose to 28% from 17%, while drinking among 1st year students is the lowest since 1966. This social consciousness can be attributed to self-esteem-laced parenting, educating, and counselling of the 1990s, Tulgan and Martin say. In their book, say Gen Y kids are responding to messages from schools, homes, and churches that they can make a difference -- from toy drives to working for better child labour laws; from supporting local recycling programs to calling for corporate







They have been hearing these messages repeatedly all their lives. It is little wonder that Gen Y'ers exhibit an altruism that embraces the environment, poverty, and community problems. At the same time, two life-altering events the last few years played a big role in shaping the consciousness of this generation—The September 11th Attacks and the rise of social consciousness in countries like the United States and South Africa. The Appeal of Artistry.

Take, Thogo Molefe and Dina Gouws, both who graduated from Wits University in 2002 and worked at the bond-trading desks in Johannesburg brokerage firms. They quit earlier this year to pursue their passion -- to start a restaurant. Molefe and Gouws, both 23, are trying to learn the business from the ground up and are working in two kitchens at restaurants in Johannesburg. They hope to join a Culinary Institute next year. "It's not like I didn't like working in finance, but when I evaluated my life and thought about what I wanted my life to end up being, I knew that the corporate check just didn't compare to the artistry of being a chef," says Molefe, who has noticed that many of her peers are making similar career switches.


She acknowledges that government corruption and the uncontrolled crime situation in South Africa has played a role in making Gen Y a more introspective generation. Is Corporate South Africa ready for them and their new attitude toward work? Heidi Locke Simon, a HR Director in the industrial sector, hears the same refrain during University recruiting. "Instead of a simple 100-hour week, now the model is: work 60 hours a week, devote 20 hours to the community, and spend 20 hours writing a plan to start your own business," says Simon, whose firm offers employees a flexible work schedule that's individualized according to their needs. Companies will have to respond to this as long as labour conditions remain tight. Moreover, it would be smart for executives to check in on human resources and consider rewriting a few policies to prepare for and to capture the talent of Generation Y.


Workplace Characteristics of Generation Y: The boss is not always right, but are they open to new ways to do business? The ever-increasing crime wave in South Africa has taught them that life can be fleeting. The Internet has exposed them to new ways of approaching life and work. They want flexibility, to be valued for their ideas and their work and I want time off to volunteer, relax, and play. They are called Generation Y, as in “why,” because they are constantly questioning the status quo. They are almost as large as the Boomer generation and are over 65% larger than the Generation X group. In the next twenty-five years, millions of Boomers will be retiring. We in South Africa have also forcibly removed through Affirmative Action many of this generation. As the Boomers retire or are forcibly removed by the implementation of government strategies and legislation, the Gen X employees will become the Gen Y’s managers. However, because of their sheer size Generation Y will be the overwhelming influence in the workplace for the next fifty years. Generation Y fully embraces technology. Today’s twenty-year-old graduate was only five years old when the Internet was developed in 1992. They have always, literally, had the world at their fingertips. They grew up with instant messaging, text messaging, cell phones, iPod’s, PDA’s, MySpace, YouTube, multitasking and blogging. They think, and act, in terms of instant communications. While Gen X


employees understood and used these vehicles, Generation Y is totally immersed in them. Baby Boomers changed the culture on civil rights, woman’s rights, and gay rights. Their world was shaped by the Cold War. The members of Generation Y were born just before or just after the first democratic election in South Africa, the incorporation of gay rights, the empowerment of women in the workplace, and the Berlin Wall came down (1990). The struggles many of us remember are accepted facts in their world. Generation Y individuals embrace diversity as an accepted norm and until recently knew nothing about war. Their world has always included diversity. Each of us has memories of some recent tragic events: the bombing of African Embassies, World Trade Centre bombing, three wars–Iraq, Afghanistan and the War on Terror. If you were a thirteen to fifteen year old, how would these events shape your thoughts about the future? In a practical way these Generation Y’s remain optimistic. Generation Y members are group-oriented, confident, goal-oriented and community-minded. They have a more worldly view than Generation X’ers.



have coddled these

employees. As children, they received trophies


for simply

participating on a team. Individual performance distinction became unimportant. Parents told them were special and capable of doing


anything. Their non-school activities were scheduled (e.g., karate, soccer, etc.), and their parents were not afraid to call a teacher, coach or Boy Scout leader if they did not think their child was being treated fairly. The super involvement of the Gen Y parent would have lead to ridicule from the Generation X society. Generation Y kids have been raised with instant communication, unrealistic feedback and rapid decision making as the norm. They believe they have the world in the palm of their hand. With their knowledge of today’s technology, they may have. So what can you, as Generation X and Bay Boomer managers do to get ready for Generation Y employees? Generation Y employees want to be heard and valued by management when they start with your company. They place a high value on family and flexibility and will volunteer their time to causes they feel are important. They are fearless and not intimidated by titles or corporate organizational charts. They love variety and are not afraid of change. If they think, they have a good suggestion they will take ownership of the idea. Moreover, they will not be afraid to take the idea up the corporate ladder to be heard. Successful companies must find ways to harness the new employee’s talents integrate them into the company and turn ideas into a competitive advantage. Progressive companies understand


that learning is a two-way street. Generation Y employees will revolutionize internal and external communications. Companies have a lot to teach the Gen Y’s, but they have a lot to learn from them also. That will be difficult in rigid, highly structured companies. Jack Welsh, former CEO of General Electric, stated “…ebusiness knowledge is usually inversely proportional to age and rank.” Hiring, challenging, and retaining good employees have always been the hallmark of successful companies. Successful companies today must develop a culture of learning, sharing and embracing change. They will employ two-way mentoring, blogging, new training platforms, and new ways of hiring and promoting people. Training Generation Y employees will change. Boring, all-day seminars will become less frequent. Generation Y employees will text message their friends during those seminars. They need the information in the seminar, but companies will have the training available in different platforms and in smaller “bite-sized” portions. These training modules will be downloadable to an employees’ Blackberry, iPod, or computer. The employee will view the sessions at home, or on a plane or listen to them in the car driving to an appointment. This is an exciting and dynamic time for business! Change will be constant, rapid, and revolutionary.


Generation Y employees will change how we look at hiring, turnover, mentoring, performance reviews, employee orientation, retention issues, and how we communicate with our employees and customers. Are your managers ready for this new employee?


Training and Motivation . Generation Y is usually described as that generation that comes after the Generation called X. The troubling thing is that after the next generation, presumably, Generation @, do we go back to A or will we have to become more imaginative in our labelling of age groups. To define them a bit further, Generation Y is composed of 14 to 24 year olds. As the qualified labour pool becomes tighter, businesses have to dip deeper into this age group for line employees, lamenting the fact that turnover is high, and service levels are low. We often have the spectre of employees being driven to work by parents because they do not yet have a driver’s license and are, in the short term not interested in getting one. The fact of the matter is that this age group is very different from even their predecessors, Gen X and even more removed from whatever the generation was before Gen X. We have spoken to many managers who feel resentment that these new employees are very unresponsive to ‘or else’ motivational tactics and will leave them if they become disgruntled for the same money or another hundred rand per month. Managers lament the lack of loyalty and unwillingness for go the extra mile for the ‘team’. When confronted with a performance issue, the employee


will sometimes just stare at the manager as though he or she is from another planet – in a way, to the Gen Y, the manager is from another planet if he or she is over thirty. What is even more frustrating to some managers is Generation Y’s total disinterest in being politically aware in the workplace and the tendency to bluntly tell the manger and other employees exactly what they think of a situation even if they know very little about it. They do not even care if you fire them – although they will seldom give a manager the opportunity to terminate them, they just leave! Generation Why We have to get used to this generation and learn how to deal with them because they are the future and the manager that learns how to motivate them and train them will earn their undying loyalty. Here an outline of the events, that have influenced this group of employees and how to manage, motivate and retain them. This is a generation who watched adults get a way with murder, literally, (the impact of the O.J. Simpson trial and the JonBenet Ramsey case) and who have noticed that hard work and character aren’t the quickest routes to fame and fortune (think the lottery and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, not to mention Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?).


We postulate that because their earliest influences have been television and Nintendo, they are “stimulus junkies”, easily bored. They are sceptical with well-developed garbage detectors and are desensitized, which means that respect isn’t yours by virtue of your title. They crave the limelight, having noticed that fame comes to many for simply being in the right place at the right time and they are blunt and expressive. The good news is that all of this stimulus has made them adept at multi-tasking, fast thinking, passionately tolerant in terms of diversity and astoundingly creative if directed in the correct fashion. We would like to outline eight strategies for managing and motivating Generation Why: 1. Let them know that what they do matters. 2. Tell them the truth – don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes (to put it politely) 3. In order to get ‘buy in’, explain the ‘why’ of what you re asking them to do and tell them what is in it for them. 4. Learn their language – communicate in terms they understand. 5. Be on the lookout for “rewarding opportunities” 6. Praise them in public – make them a ‘star’ 7. Make the workplace fun


8. Model behaviour – do not expect one thing out of them that you don’t and won’t deliver yourself, be the example. Implications for business While Generation Y may come from a different place, influenced by factors that are unique to them, managing them does not sound very difficult. In fact, the eight strategies above are what good managers do and have always done.

These strategies work

equally well for every generation, in every organization at any time. Managers who have succeeded to this point in managing by intimidation and threats will not make it with this generation. This generation has never known unsupported unemployment. Work is there for them if they want it and their parents will support them if there is no work. They are in the driver’s seat – they choose you. Money is not the prime motivator – they can get that anywhere. Unlike previous generations that would grumble at being poorly treated but stay for the sake of a pay cheque, these workers will not put up with it. sense


The onus is on us to make the workplace make








The smart companies do this. Others have been so overwhelmed by the robust economy, that they have not taken the time to pay attention to these basic principles of good management or they never knew them in first place. In the new economy where


managers are struggling to maintain basic levels of customer service with fewer employees, it is difficult to gain a perspective that allows them to plan and execute good recruitment and retention policies, much less a customer service training program that gives them an edge. The consumer is unfortunately beginning to accept mediocre customer service as superior because basic levels of customer service are becoming increasingly rare. Our employees not our customers are now forcing us to return to these basic and good management principles. Our employees are forcing us to recognize their status as our internal customers and to service them if we have any hope of motivating them to provide decent customer service to our guests.



Workplace change They are young, they are keen, and they are coming to a corner office near you. As the year kicks into high gear, the latest crop of twenty-something employees has begun to descend upon the workplace--and they are bringing with them an entirely new way of doing business. While the arrival of the learnership candidate or the fresh-faced university graduate may provoke dread in some employees--and relief in others--, there is no denying that their fast-talking, multitasking ways make them a force to be reckoned with. Now, say several experts, they just have to prove they can cut it at the top. David Foot, a Toronto-based demographer and author of the Boom, Bust & Echo series of books, says members of the echo generation--those born between 1980 and 1995--are poised to accomplish great things by taking advantage of flattened corporate structures that have made it easier to climb the executive ladder at a faster clip. "Lateral thinking is very important," says Foot. "When these people get to the top, that'll be an advantage. The real question is whether they will understand enough about the components of the corporation to be able to do it well. They've thought laterally across the top of subjects--they haven't drilled down into them."


The ability to "jump around tasks" at breakneck speed, using technology that is ubiquitous with today's youth--Blackberries, cellphones and PDAs--has

also enhanced productivity and

efficiency. "It's brilliant," says Foot. "It's led to all sorts of abilities to multi-task that previous generations haven't had--that's the upside. The downside associated with that is the inability to concentrate over long periods of time on a single task." While their technical wizardry often draws awe in some quarters, it can also be disconcerting--and even annoying--to the less technologically savvy members of the baby boom generation (those born between 1947 and 1966). As a result, older co-workers are often quick to brand their twenty-something colleagues--also known as Generation Y--with many of the unflattering stereotypes associated with young people. Yes, they are disloyal. Yes, they are rebellious. In addition, yes, they are cocky--but no more so than their parents or grandparents were when they were the same age, argues Foot. "The characteristics often attributed to this generation are not different than any other generation when they were in their 20s--and that's one of the biggest myths out there," he says. What really sets this cohort apart, he adds, is the way they socialize, communicate, and manage. Rather than sweat the small stuff, the echo generation is much more interested in the "big


picture"--and in exposing themselves to as many different aspects of business as possible. Moreover, they are definitely not afraid to speak up when it comes to getting what they want. "I'm not going to be the type of person that's going to sit around and do nothing if there's nothing to do," says Jacob Masondo, a 22-year-old Rhodes University commerce graduate who was recently hired as an analyst at ABSA, a Multi National bank. While Masondo says he's willing to put in the 80 to 90 hours a week that his job requires--after all, it's a rite of passage of sorts for many young business entrants--he has no qualms about admitting he plans to "learn as much as I can" and then move on in a few years to look for something bigger and better paid. Unfortunately, it is exactly that kind of full-speed-ahead attitude that can earn members of the echo generation the scorn of some more seasoned colleagues. "They see these new young people who don't know anything--they haven't had any experience--and yet they seem blasĂŠ about the job," says John Matla, a disgruntled senior manager. Some argue that their pie-in-the-sky attitude is very much a product of their upbringing. Unlike the cohort before them--those born in the mid-1960s to the late-1970s who were later popularized by the media as "Generation X" thanks to Canadian author Douglas Coupland--this younger group was raised in a hugely more nurturing








hopefulness. "They've been taught that life is going to be creative and challenging and collaborative and that that's the way work is going to be," she says. "They come feeling much more positive and having a lot of unreasonably high expectations for their jobs." Unfortunately, their enthusiasm is often greeted with scepticism or downright hostility. Instead of realizing, it is generational; at work, we tend to make it personal. Therefore, we say things like, 'She just isn't willing to pay her dues. She doesn't have a good work ethic or she's just way too much of a Pollyanna.' 1If we can begin to realize that some of this is generational, then it is a lot easier to talk about. We can have some humour so it's not so personal." Laura Roberts, a 24-year-old engineer-in-training for an oil and gas producer, says the sheer volume of work in South Africa’s red-hot commodities sector has created plenty of opportunities for young engineers and geologists. However, when it comes to whether there is tension between these young hotshots and their older, more experienced co-workers, Roberts is divided. "I think it depends on the person," she says. "I've seen instances where people are in a position that's quite senior for their age, but if they're good at it and can actually perform, and then it's OK. But I've also


Pollyanna tells the story of Pollyanna Whittier, a young girl who goes to live with her wealthy Aunt Polly after her father's death. Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers around what she calls "The Glad Game": she always tries to find something to be glad about in every situation, and to always do without delay whatever she thinks is right.


seen instances where [young] people progress and they're in over their head." Rather than fighting the generational divide, companies should do their best to embrace--and hold on to--the newest generation of employees. Companies are finally beginning to wake up to the unique needs of the Millennials and have implemented mentoring and coaching programs to help welcome Generation Y into the corporate fold--often doing it on terms that are more meaningful to the way they work and function. We have also found that there are even some “smart� companies [in the United States] that are hiring teams of people--particularly in fast-food companies--to work on the front line, they might hire a team of friends and have them competing against another team of friends. We will have to see how this new trend works out for them. One has to caution that companies in the United States may succumb very easily to faddishness and we would like to caution the more rational companies against this behaviour. John Stockwell, a Johannesburg-based recruitment manager for a large bank, says the bank hires about 150 students each year to work in its various divisions across Africa. He characterizes them as a "tech-savvy" bunch who are keen to make an impact on the organization and who value a "very clear progression track" when it comes to their careers. "I think the most important thing is the feeling of being able to make a contribution, really getting the


opportunity to do something that has an impact," says Stockwell. "One of the things that we notice about new graduates is that they're looking for a certain opportunity to have some ownership-that seems to be really important." Stockwell is more guarded when it comes to speculating on any tensions that might arise when a group of summer students or newly minted graduates are suddenly forced to mix with employees who are their parents' age. Nevertheless, he is quick to point out that both groups should take advantage of the opportunity to "learn from each other." John McCallum, a University finance professor who has been teaching young people for 32 years, believes the current generation of future leaders are well positioned to take the corporate world by storm. "They are stronger at communications. They have more respect for diversity and for how diversity of groups can add to the output. They are less judgmental, they are more focused, and, in general, they have much better analytical skills," he observes. "Necessity has driven them to have great multitasking skills and to keep a whole bunch of balls in the air at once--way more so than the generation of executives had to in the '60s." The only challenge now, McCallum adds, will be to keep up with them. By the time, Generation Y walks through the door on their first day of work they will have up to three degrees and their sights firmly fixed on their first promotion.


According to research by recruitment giant Drake, if that promotion does not materialise in as little as six months, Gen Y is out the door on their way to their next job. Even if they like a job, they will probably only stay two years. Stephanie Dinnell, who led the Drake research, said Gen Y comprised 20 per cent of the working population but would represent up to 40 per cent in just five years. She said it followed that companies able to attract and retain Gen Y would have a competitive advantage in their marketplace. "Generation Y will have up to five roles by the time they are 30. They are looking for management roles and they are already starting to fill them," Ms Dinnell said. An organisational psychologist

and behavioural assessment

specialist, Ms Dinnell's report: Generation Y: Cannot live with them, cannot live without them was based on a survey of 3000 Gen Yers plus a series of in depth focus groups. According to the research, the good news is Gen Y is tech savvy, having grown up with the Internet, mobile technology, computer games and various gadgets.


They are ideally placed to be key drivers of product development and are good at sales. They are entrepreneurial, ambitious and want to challenge the ways things have always been done. The bad news is technology has made Gen Y accustomed to having their needs met instantly. Patience is not a Gen Y virtue. They are also the most "coddled" generation and they want to be "nurtured and coached" at work as they have been at home and at school. They saw their parents work long hours and bringing homework and as a result are determined not to follow suit. Ms Dinnell said Y’ers wants workplace flexibility, including telecommuting and working hours that allow them to do the things, they love outside of work. "Their attitude is 'if the work is getting done, does it matter when it is getting done or from where?' “She said. Gen Y also expected work to deliver on multiple fronts - financial reward and challenge - but they also wanted it to be "fun and social.� "My advice to companies trying to create the right environment is to ask Gen Y what they consider 'fun' - don't assume to know," Ms


Dinnell said. She said also advised companies not to rely on salary as a way to keep Gen Y. "Salary is more an attraction tool than a retention tool," Ms Dinnell said. The report found that Y’ers want constant recognition including praise for just doing the job they are paid to do. This particular characteristic will have the effect of draining time and energy from seniors in an attempt to keep the Y’ers happy. It is our view that Y’ers should not be pandered to in the workplace but rather, during the acclimatisation phase be brought into a business reality zone in terms of performance. Yes, we can all do with more “fun”, and more “parental type coaching” but the one thing businesses cannot compromise on is the level of performance required to be in the job. Meaningless praise will only result in meaningless contribution and ever-spiralling lower levels of performance. Other effective retention tools

included a variety of work

assignments, increased responsibility, flexible work practices, career pathways, mentoring, and good leadership and to have a say in decision-making. Ms Dinnell said it was crucial companies managed Gen Y expectations from day one. While promotions every six months might be unrealistic, she advised employers to find ways to add to the variety and level of challenge involved in the work of Gen Y employees and to explain what would be possible and when.


On the job-hunting front, Gen Y do not want to attend more than two interviews and job ads should include details of the office culture.


Getting workplace value They have been called “Millennials,” “Generation Y” and even “Echo Boomers.” Whatever you call them, the emerging generation of young workers is creating challenges for some employers and managers. Generation Y is entering the workforce with an entirely new set of values, attitudes and beliefs compared with new recruits ten or twenty years ago. They are different because they grew up watching different TV shows, played ultra-violent video games, saw politicians and sports heroes fall from grace like never before and through it all they never blinked an eye. They’ve heard tales about a simpler time, but they have no comprehension of it. Some commentators pinpoint the year 1981 as being critical in this discussion. It was in 1981 that “Chariots of Fire” won the Oscar for Best Picture, but maybe more importantly, it was 1981 when IBM officially launched the PC, and generation Y was born. Generational cohorts are groups of people, usually born in the same 20-year time span, who share common life experiences and thus share common attitudes and traits. Our workforce today arguably consists of four major generations:


The World War II generation (born before 1943),

The baby boom generation (born from 1944 to 1960),

Generation X (born between 1961 and 1980), and

Generation Y (born from 1981 onwards).

Think of the university graduates you’ve seen moving into workplace programs in the past two years. Think also of the segment of your workforce who will comprise the bulk of your frontline workers by 2010. Think of the people who will grab the torch from the 30% of your employees who are soon going to be eligible for retirement. You are thinking of Generation Y. Generation Y is also known as the Internet generation, since, from early childhood they were surrounded by digital technologies. PCs, PlayStations and cell phones are as comfortable to this group as the television was to previous groups. For many managers, a major question arises: “How do you attract, manage and engage a generation you do not understand?” Generation Y, with around 4.5 million young South Africans, is increasingly becoming the talent that business needs to establish competitive advantage in the market place. For many employers, they are difficult to attract, harder to manage and are proving near impossible to retain. However, this need not be the case if we make the effort to understand this emerging generation.


Some HR specialists have produced guidelines for managing the Under 24’s in the workplace, and while many of these may seem like standard HR policy, appropriate for all workers, taken together they form a worthwhile roadmap. The guidelines include: •

Wherever possible, provide challenging work that really matters;








achievements as they happen; •

Provide ongoing training and learning opportunities (it’s very often ‘lack of training’ that Generation Y members give as a reason for leaving);

Allow some flexibility in day-to-day scheduling.

Treat them as colleagues, not as beginners or kids;

Use innovative ideas for creating a more comfortable, lowkey, low-stress workplace; and

Focus on work outcomes, but be personable and have a sense of humour.

It seems increasingly clear that Generation Y wants the workplace to be fun, relaxed, and non traditional. Even in an office situation, they expect to spend less than 50 percent of their time behind a desk. Instead, they will hold wireless keyboards on their laps and swivel their chairs while they type. They will stand outside in the sun and talk from a cell phone. They


will gather around a whiteboard while sipping coffee in the office kitchen. None of these work style details are really that important, but it is important that managers do not get hung up on such details. The fact is that, over time, it is going to be Generation Y that will take the lead in deciding how computers and other devices will take hold in the workplace. Every other generation has had to adapt themselves to how things were done as they entered the workforce. Now the workforce is adapting itself to Generation Y and the technological expertise they bring. There is a strong promise that the future of work with Generation Y will be very different. Seasoned professionals can mentor younger folks on climbing the ladder, but insight can flow in the other direction, too. Generation Y may be able to teach baby boomers a thing or two about navigating the 21st century workplace. Members of Gen-Y feel right at home in the world that many baby boomers still are trying to figure out. Trying out their point of view may give older professionals an edge over less open-minded peers. Gen Y is moving into the job market during major demographic changes. For instance, sixty-year-olds are working beside 20-yearolds) and sometimes, the former are being overseen by the later.


Nearly 50 percent of aging workers will become eligible for retirement by 2012 another major difference to accompany Gen Y includes a wider diversity in our global workforce. According to studies by Omelia a research firm based in Canada, Gen Y is the most ethnically diverse generation, yet. For example, one in four worldwide is not Caucasian. One in four is black, one is Asian, and one may be from any other culture. The pampered Gen Y's have historically grown up with high tech toys and so they are high-maintenance and high-performance. They are a generation that believes in their own value and worth. If they do not like the job, they are willing to change their career as fast as they changed their subjects at University. This fact is a major frustration, as well as cost, to employers who must find better ways to retain and recruit these talented young employees. Baby Boomers use to talk about concerns with Work-Life Balance. Now, younger Gen Y employees talk about wanting control over their work lives.

According to work savvy consultants at the

Herman Group, this generations’ focus is on “Life-Work Balance�--clearly, emphasizing their priority on personal life versus work. As Gen Y employees enter the workforce, they want to know how the work will or will not interfere with the type of life they want to lead. Generation Y views work as merely a vehicle to live the life they really value. From their perspective, work does not define them and work is not a reason for living. These radically new values


must be taken into consideration when employers design benefits and bonuses to induce these workers to join their company and to stay. Research studies have also shown that Gen Y prefers “directness over subtlety, action over observation, and cool over all else� (Marlatt). This generation is also more concerned about social issues than their former Gen X colleagues are. Employers are urged to pay attention to this new and very large portion of the labour force. They must begin now, developing creative ways to relate with this headphone-wearing, mouse-finger tapping, IPOD happy group of new employees. Generally, work roles are indicative of generational groups. Workers of the Traditional Generation tend to hold more executive level positions, while Baby Boomers and older Gen X employees tend to hold middle management positions and those of Generation Y hold front-line or entry-level positions. Typically, workgroup cohorts have tended to advance and remain with others of their generation creating a workgroup of similar values, goals, and workplace styles. In essence, these workgroup cohorts create the culture of the organization, of work teams and of products and services.


As workplaces move toward matching job roles with skill sets and become more horizontal in structure, employees find themselves in work environments with co-workers of different generations with very different values, goals and work styles. Multigenerational work environments can breed misunderstanding and conflict and can compromise growth. Yet, they also can be a source of positive challenge, opportunity, and significant growth if managed effectively and leveraged to meet the business goals of the organization.



Workplace Needs Attracting and retaining the best talent among graduates could present employers with major challenges over the next few years, if they are not prepared to change and adapt their HR policies, according to a new survey. Generation Y graduates, want more responsibility in the workplace, more say

in the management of their career and more

consideration to their lifestyle needs. 'The Young Ones' published by Kendall Tarrant Worldwide, looks exclusively at issues relating to the recruitment and retention of the 'Generation Y'* group. The motivations and triggers for Generation Y are significantly different to their predecessors from either 'Generation X or from the baby-boomer generation. Looking specifically at issues relating to the advertising industry, The Young Ones highlights issues which are relevant to all employers looking to maintain a motivated and committed workforce. Andrew McGuiness, Chief Executive of advertising agency, TBWA commented, "Increasingly the very best graduates are extremely direct about what they want from our organisation - and so they should be! Gone are the days when the best, most talented people in the market were happy to go cap in hand to employers. Now they


have far greater self-confidence - employers have always been very clear about what they want from graduates, graduates are now equally clear what they want from us." Key findings include:

What Generation Y wants may ultimately not be that different to its predecessors however, the key difference is that Generation Y is not afraid to ask for it, now, says the survey.

The notion of a career for life is a thing of the past. Generation Y wants greater fluidity in their professional careers,







highlighting the transferable skills that working in their profession will instill in people. It also means that employers themselves need to consider recruiting from other professions, to broaden their potential talent pool. •

Gone too is the concept of professional loyalty. Generation Y graduates are likely to be more loyal to their lifestyle than their job, further emphasizing the need for employers to adopt a more flexible approach to recruitment and retention.

The research has shown that this generation expects transparent, committed, adult-to-adult relationships and is prepared to make cut and dried decisions. They will


demand early responsibility for which employers will need to ensure accountability. •

Faced with employees who want everything, and want it now, employers will need to be wary of overselling at the graduate entry point. They need to be clear that a tough apprenticeship is to be expected but should demonstrate that people accepting this are rewarded and promoted. They need to showcase examples of successful individuals at this level, to motivate others.


Employers will need to consider adapting traditional structures and hierarchies to accommodate individual skills. This may lead to more hybridized roles emerging that play to an individual's skills set (learned) and to their natural talents and centre of gravity. Success looks different to this generation and employers may need to think about doing away with traditional job titles which may constrict personal growth.

Hannah Brown, Managing Director of Kendall Tarrant Worldwide said, "We have found this research to be both fascinating and highly illuminating. We've noticed that over the past three years, graduates are expressing different attitudes to their predecessors and our findings confirm this. The challenge for employers is to adopt a transparent, flexible and personalized approach that is honest about the challenges of a job, while clearly demonstrating the rewards and potential for progression. It's about the successful


development of individuals, and not about adopting a 'one size fits all' approach. Employers that can embrace this sooner rather than later, will gain a real competitive edge." Ross King, Managing Director of advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson added, "I've seen a change in attitudes over the last few years. For example, during interviews, younger candidates show a much greater willingness to ask probing questions. They're much more up front about achieving a good work/life balance." "We've had to make sure that our working practices have adapted to meet changing expectations, whether it's by introducing greater flexibility in working hours; offering sabbaticals or job shares. The lesson for us is that we have to think about people in the round and be smarter about career development. It's about getting work to fit into people's lives and not the other way around."


Recruitment Solutions Generation Y was described as “The most demanding generation in history,” by Bruce Tulgan and Dr. Carolyn Martin in Managing the Generation Mix – Part II.

I have also heard Gen Y’s called

“Generation X on steroids.” Nonetheless, here lies the challenge of how we are going to attract these individuals to work for our organizations. For the purposes of this book, we dug deep into the minds of 500 Gen Y’ers in various workplaces around South Africa to find out what makes them “tick” in hopes that our findings will help you attract and retain these successful individuals in your organization. Our first step was to find out what was most important to them. The top three responses we received were quality friendships, feeling they can contribute on the job, and a feeling of safety. They like an organization where they can create friendships much as if they did growing up in school. In other words, your organization must have a social flair to catch the eyes of this generation. Some examples include company clubs (i.e. golf) or company social events (i.e. Company Evenings or meeting after work for coffee or a beer). Nevertheless, these quality relationships must go hand and hand with feeling like what they do adds value to the organization.


Recognizing what is important to a Gen Y is not enough if you don’t incorporate some of the key issues that entice them to join an organization. During our research, we found the top three ways to get a Gen Y to join an organization were 1. salary, 2. friendly casual work environment, 3. and growth and development opportunities in that order. It is not surprising that salary was on top given the money that was thrown around in the late 90’s when the first Gen Y’ers were entering the workforce. In addition, unfortunately for businesses but fortunately for these individuals, high salaries and signing bonus are likely to continue given our skilled labour shortage. However, it is not all about money. Gen Y’ers need to enjoy where they are working in the fun atmosphere described above minus the stuffy blue suits. In addition, they want to see opportunities to grow their skills, knowledge, and abilities through on the job experiences, mentorship’s, training, and learning from others. With all this in mind, you will also need to think about how to position your recruiting to reach the quality Gen Y’ers.

It will take

technology and advertising. The younger generations are going to take advantage of every ounce of technology to make their job search a success and easier. You will need to advertise the job on multiple online job posting boards local, national, trade related, or all three. Moreover, you will definitely want to create a job posting


board on your company’s website. The job posting board will need to be regularly updated and provide an easy, responsive way for candidates to apply online. Where you advertise is not the only thing you will need to do different. Gone are the days of receiving resumes via snail mail or faxes.

With the advancements of technology, this techno savvy

generation likes to apply immediately and get a response or feedback immediately. You will need to have a human resources email address and/or an online application process.

For the

process to succeed, you must have someone regularly checking the applications/resumes and following up with candidates. Otherwise, your credibility will be shot from the get go. The actual copy of the ads will be critical. You will need to include the key words that will attract these individuals to your ads when they do online searches. The younger generations like short, snappy copy that gets right to the point of what they will be doing. Nevertheless, of equal or more importance, the ad will need to advertise the culture of your organization as it relates to the values of this generation. Your ads will need to include statements such as:



fast paced


individual contribution


work / life balance


family friendly


do it your way


opportunity to grow


no rules


state of the art technology.

Only list these kinds of features in your ad if you truly offer them. Otherwise, you will get to experience how fast these generations will leave an organization that does not fulfil their promises. The Gen Y’ers provide a large pool of talent eager to be groomed for the workforce and ready to fill in the gaps we are sure to encounter. Evaluate what you are doing to attract and retain your younger generation and make changes now to ensure your company successfully rides out this labour storm. Loyalty and Generation Y Generation Y believes loyalty is a two-way street and once they prove their capability, they look for loyalty in return. Honesty, followed by



learning and development


Generation Y loyal to an employer, in comparison to job satisfaction, a stable company and learning and development for the remainder of the workforce. Generation Y will not tolerate a manager who does not deliver what they promise.


Generation Y are loyal to an employer who provides, in the following order of importance: 1. Honesty 2. Respect 3. Learning and development 4. Career progression 5. Good working conditions 6. Recognition and rewards 7. Strong leadership and management 8. Regular performance reviews 9. Competitive salary 10. Work/life balance In comparison, the remainder of workforce group surveyed are loyal to an employer, who provides, in the following order of importance: 1. Job satisfaction 2. Stable company 3. Learning and development 4. Work/life balance 5. Recognition and rewards 6. Strong leadership and management 7. Career progression 8. A culture that promotes accountability 9. Honesty 10. Support when required


Implications for the South African Workplace Generation Y are confident and optimistic. With this comes an expectation of responsibility and challenges, which they seek earlier in their career than previous generations. While Baby Boomers believed if they worked hard and did a good job their employer would look after them, and Generation X are content to work their way up the corporate ladder, Generation Y need to be continually challenged in the workplace, or they will go elsewhere. Generation Y are technologically perceptive and were raised with fast-paced multimedia, where computer games, emails and text messages are instantaneous. As a result, they are accustomed to fast-paced results and would not consider spending years developing their career. This generation will not start at the bottom by getting the tea and coffee. They want immediate challenges and with it, recognition. Generation Y may be confident and ambitious, but they still require mentoring and development. They value strong leadership and will not tolerate ineffective managers who are incapable of providing the direction they seek. Mentoring systems and programs within your workplace, and a clear career path and logical reasons for doing their job, will help overcome this. The provision of training programs or courses is also an integral part of this development.


For Generation Y, technology is part of their life rather than just a tool. Outdated technology in the workplace is not viewed positively. Generation Y are creative problem solvers and they want recognition for their efforts. Workplaces where Generation Y’ers are to thrive require clear reward and recognition programs to celebrate a job well done. However, traditional methods of rewarding success will not work. Forget the corner office, gold watch, or casual Fridays! Instead, develop a program in consultation with your Generation Y employees; do not expect them to be grateful for the opportunity to provide input, but they will work hard to achieve rewards and recognition they value as significant and desirable. Generation Y expect flexibility and view work/life balance as a given, not a benefit. They want to enjoy their life while maintaining a rewarding and successful career. However, it is important to remember work/life balance is not a one-size fits all circumstance. The ideal work/life balance varies from person to person and according to the stage of their life. For example, the right balance for an employee when they are single will probably be different when they marry, if they have children, when they start a new career, or when they near retirement. An effective work/life balance is about enabling your employees to have choices about how they manage their workload, rather than assuming the 'ideal' work/life balance will be the same for each employee.


The most common work/life balance arrangements include time off in lieu, staggered hours, flexible working hours, time off to travel and working from home. We have also seen instances recently of fractional employment options, where employees reduce their working hours in order to fulfil other responsibilities by working a fraction of the full-time week. Fundamentally, work/life balance has to be a win-win for all parties and consistency is critical - one employee cannot be given more flexibility than others can. However, the overall result has to be in the best interests of the business, as well as your employee. Since 60 per cent of Generation Y view themselves as a risk-taker when it comes to their career, they are more likely to jump at another opportunity or resign if they are not satisfied in your workplace. Therefore, it is important to address the issues they view as valuable and important in a workplace. Recommendations for Attraction Candidate attraction is becoming increasingly important as the skills shortage worsens and Baby Boomers begin to retire. However attraction can be an expensive exercise, particularly when it does not yield the desired results. So how can you most effectively attract Generation Y?


Our research suggests many of the old rules of recruiting will not work for Generation Y. These candidates have seen the skills shortage develop - they have read about it on the internet and are very aware that it exists. They know they have more options in the job market, giving them increased advantage in terms of benefits and work environment. Branding, promoting what your organisation can offer and demonstrating honesty and respect are all part of the recruiting equation, as well as promoting the ongoing learning and development your company provides. Employer branding is an essential component in Generation Y attraction. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to consider the impression potential candidates might get of your company, even when you are not talking directly to them. Generation Y have access to more information than any other generation at the start of their careers. They will research your company and form their own opinions of your brand, so make sure the messages going out to the general market about your company are positive and in line with your culture. For most companies, every customer is a potential employee and every touch point or interaction is an opportunity to establish or demonstrate your brand. However, in each interaction, you have to demonstrate integrity; if what you promise is not delivered, Generation Y will notice. The promotion of a modern work environment with new technology and constant challenges is also important in attracting Generation


Y. These candidates will be attracted to employers that can satisfy their interest for variety and modern technology. Equally, you should utilise modern technology in the recruitment of Generation Y, including a strong internet presence, and maintain swift recruitment processes. Acknowledge candidates with an email or telephone call once their application is received and provide follow-up, even if they are not successful. Generation Y value honesty and respect, which your recruitment processes should exude at all times. Recommendations for Retention Generation Y are very career driven, but they expect a lot in return and if an employer does not provide it, they will go elsewhere. With the average anticipated length of tenure between two to four years, employers need to be seen to be adding value to a Generation Y employee to counter this trend and retain them. Based on our research, the following are our recommendations to aid your retention of Generation Y: •

Strong leadership is important. Generation Y admit they are risk takers. They usually have an idea of where they want their career to progress, but may not have a short-term plan to get there. Managers who can offer the advice and support to help them reach their goals and progress their career are valued.


One element of this is providing regular performance reviews,






objective and setting goals that will lead to career progression. Generation Y are fast moving and demand immediate results. Therefore, you need to structure a specific stepped career path to demonstrate how you will develop their career to accomplish their goals. Align their current role to career aspirations and enable them to make use








responsibilities that will increase over time. •

The other element is learning and development. Offer regular programs to help your Generation Y employees develop their career with your organisation. Generation Y want to continually learn new skills and it is important you provide an opportunity for them to utilise these new skills. Ongoing learning and development can be as simple as setting up an internal mentoring program or networking sessions, or formal structured courses through external educational providers.

Generation Y are loyal to an employer who is honest and respectful. Support company values, deliver your promises, meet their needs, and be considerate of individual skills, goals, and expectations.

Ensure provision of flexible working patterns. As stated previously, Generation Y believe work/life balance is a given, not a benefit.


Review work/life balance options at regular intervals to ensure they still meet your employee's needs. For example, offer roles in different locations or offices, moves into different departments or work from home options.

Maintain good working conditions with modern technology.








Generation Y employees contribute to the recognition and reward model employed. •

Generation Y are less motivated by money than previous generations. According to the 2005 Hays Salary Survey, salaries have increased between three and six per cent on average over the past 12 months. While salary is not Generation Y's main priority, it is still important to be competitive.


Communication Today's demographic trend is impossible to ignore and has big implications for Generation Y’ers are entering the workforce in massive waves. Add Generation Xers, who are now in their 30s and early 40s, and you have millions of employees whose visions for their jobs differ from their parents' and most of their bosses' old command-and-control management theories. According to research compiled by RainmakerThinking and quoted in USA Today, Gen Y—the millennium generation—has high expectations for itself and its employers, seeking highly engaged managers to help them grow and develop their professional skills. This finding reinforces the insights I learned from a fascinating conversation with some companies, who have given a lot of thought to motivating, inspiring, and engaging young colleagues. Empower Them Some of these companies argue that younger workers are transforming the workplace from the "get rich quick" attitude of the '90s to a culture of empowerment and contribution. At the end of the day, these employees want to feel as though they are part of something essential and that they have contributed to its achievement.


"Am I important, and am I offering value?� Those are the questions young people are asking themselves. A key to managing this generation








achievements, but more important, to help employees recognize their role in accomplishing that mission. Empowering means soliciting employees' input and giving them a role in the decision-making process. Meetings, for example, shouldn't be a method of broadcasting a set of orders. Inviting a young employee into a face-to-face meeting builds an expectation of participation. It shows the individual that the manager cares what he or she thinks. Meetings should be considered two-way communications, forums for asking other people to contribute their ideas and letting them know that their contribution is not only welcome but valued and carefully considered. Be a Mentor, Not a Taskmaster I asked various Y’ers what young people expect from their leaders in today's workplace. Their reply: "We want a mentor, not a taskmaster." They go on to explain that young workers fresh out of school have no frame of reference for their new job. They haven't been in the corporate world for a decade or more, so they join the corporate ranks with memories of mentors who they loved or hated. And unlike their parents, who may have found fulfillment in a steady paycheck, the new generation of employee wants a relationship with someone they feel understands them and their goals.


"Managing is no longer just about hitting certain metrics, it's about understanding individuals and helping us grow". I'm buried in work! I do not like you!!" That's an extreme example, but it makes the point that many bosses spend more time managing to task and less time mentoring their subordinates. We believe that 50% of a manager's time should be allocated to developing her staff. Yes, 50%. It sounds like a lot, but we can reason that if [managers] aren't doing that, then the headcount is wrong, the budgeting process is wrong, or the company has tried to create too much efficiency. You'll burn people out. Help Them Reach Their Goals How should managers spend some of this time "developing" employees? Young people don't want to show up every day to just "turn a screw. They look for meaning—in their work, their lives, and their interactions with their bosses. As the RainmakerThinking research indicated, members of Generation Y want to grow. They argue that an important component of mentoring is to know your employees and understand their goals. One person's goal might be to express themselves creatively in their job while another person might aspire to a specific position in the organization or industry.


The key is for managers to find that sweet spot in the lives of their employees and to help them reach their goals. If the goal isn't in line with the job function, then the job is wrong for the employee. That, too, is the job of a manager—to help people find the right roles and to exceed in those roles. Helping employees achieve their goals is a win-win-win situation. According to RainmakerThinking research, the employee will be engaged, which leads to higher productivity for the boss and the company. The boss's boss will be thrilled because the manager is getting the most out of his staff. Yes, I repeat, it's a win for the employee, the boss, and the company. A strong manager can be a mentor, generate respect among younger people, and also develop relationships with staff that foster trust and admiration by both parties. RainmakerThinking research believes that it's not an option to develop this type of relationship with younger workers—it's required.


Motivation Up to half of young employees recruited via graduate recruitment ‘Milk rounds’ leave firms within only two years according to a new study, highlighting a damaging communications gap between young workers and their managers. This ‘milk churn’ effect has been revealed in a report undertaken by Siemens in conjunction with The Work Foundation that highlights how employers need to understand the implications for employment policies of the expectations of the “generation Y” of young workers born since 1980. Key to this understanding is the realisation that today’s 18-24 yearolds are a highly pragmatic generation of workers. Endless rounds of corporate restructuring and the resultant redundancies mean that they do not view security as being guaranteed the current job. Instead, young workers want to acquire skills and experience that will make them attractive to the market. This results in individuals wanting to exit an organisation and eventually doing so. “There are two sides divided by a common language”, explained Will Hutton, Chief Executive, of The Work Foundation. “Falling numbers mean that companies are going to have to compete harder and harder to attract and retain young talent. This is not


about money, but about understanding their views and needs and working hard to establish a common language. “Honesty underpins all of this, which is why it is so sad to see so many young workers claiming that their jobs had been significantly oversold.” Young workers and managers in four benchmark firms were interviewed as part of the research. In addition, although it became clear that businesses recognise the dynamism of young workers; it was apparent that a communications gap existed between expectations and reality. While managers were clear that they were stretching the best performers, young workers themselves were less convinced that this was actually, what happened. Development plans, apparently mutually agreed, do not seem to fulfil many of the young workers’ promises. In short, the Generation Y worker joins a high profile company thinking ‘I’m building up my skills and my network and looking for the next opportunity’. Young workers are distinguished by their rejection of the 'civil service' attitude and their expectation of a more meritocratic approach that values talent. The report reveals what it terms a ‘Terrible Paradox’, the high-risk strategy whereby companies need to invest in the development and


training of employees, ultimately making them highly attractive candidates for other employers to poach. The reality is that by making younger workers more attractive to the market, the employer is creating a sense of security and so is rewarded with loyalty. At best, older workers recognise that younger workers bring a challenge to the status quo, are refreshing acting as 'catalysts for change', forward thinking, and a manifestation of the faith the company has in its long-term viability. There were also other positive benefits in that managing young workers can be a useful learning experience for potential managers. However, the question of 'discipline' divides the older workers. Some feel that younger workers are not as disciplined or committed as older workers with a rather blasĂŠ attitude. In addition, older workers sometimes perceive the younger generation as pushy because, according to young workers, they 'don't recognise times have changed'. There are an increasing number of management terms to describe best practice in attracting, progressing, and keeping young talent. However, according to the report, the two key attributes are honesty and understanding. "Any successful relationship needs a solid foundation and ongoing reassessment," the report states. "The only way to give that talent


what it craves is to understand what that is in the first place. All of this requires good communication."


Training Born from 1977 to 1986, Generation Y, or the Millennials, is a potential force of as many as 40 million. The first wave of Gen Y’s is just now embarking on their careers as employees. They are products of a global economy, a connected, collaborative environment in which technology has allowed them to network. They are knowledge workers with ubiquitous access to powerful laptops and the know how to utilize 21st century technology and digital resources. They are socially adept at working in groups or teams and are avid users of online social networking, such as MySpace and FaceBook. A learning community is their forte, thus to work collaboratively in a group is second nature to them. The new crops of employees are tech-savvy and poised to be lifelong learners. If inquiry means deep thinking, then the Gen Ys can already run circles around us veteran educators when it comes to collecting data, finding resources, thinking deeply, problemsolving, reflecting, and inquiring. They are the most socially conscious generation since the Boomers. Gen Ys are out in force working for social causes ranging from volunteering in international areas of poverty to helping people build housing..










expectations and are accomplishment oriented. The Generation Y can be described in four positive ways: 1. A generation that is confident, self-sufficient, and achievementoriented 2. A generation that is the most education-minded in history 3. A generation paving the way to a more open, tolerant society 4. A socially conscious generation leading a new wave of volunteerism Gen Y’s Learn Best by Collaboration The





output and

oriented, thus




oriented. Gen Y’s live in a global society where everyone is on the same, level playing field sharing information and solutions to produce outcomes. We can nurture that skill by allowing them to produce results in groups. Typically, companies expect trainers to be creative and do a good job behind closed doors. Collaboration is rare. Worse yet, new trainers seldom see another classroom. Loneliness and lack of support further exacerbate the problems of typical trainers.


Surround Gen Y trainers with a community of creative thinkers and the solutions will abound everywhere.

They are great team

players. Professionals do not work alone; they work in teams.


trainers meet in teams to focus on a problem, they become part of a team that will work with employees who need their help. Trainers should be in teams, working collaboratively around problems identified that are related to employees Collaboration is the most effective way for the new Gen Y to learn. Professional development is most effective and employees learn more in sustained networks and study groups than as individuals. Everyone knows that businesses train workers in teams with specific outcomes in mind. It will become easier to do because this is the way of life for the Y Generation of trainers. Gen Y’s Are Our Future Leaders By channelling their talent for working together, we will see improved



Education is



endeavour. No one individual has all the answers. We depend on each other for the creative solutions to our problems and the


collective inspiration to design lessons that will improve student learning. Millennials like structure and will want companies to give them clear rules and procedures to follow. They need to clearly see the value of their work. They want their work to be relevant, have impact, and offer them a diversity of experiences. This next generation of employees is the most intelligent, talented, competitive (and compulsive) group this country has seen. It is a Renaissance generation with much potential if we put the future in their care. They are more interesting, more confident, less hidebound and uptight, better educated, more creative, and even unafraid. The grandeur of the future is in their capable hands. Do you recognize yourself or your employees? If you see yourself or your employees in the previous paragraphs, you should be energized with the potential for yourself and your staff. However, you need to be in an environment where you can put your talents and strengths to use. Training Programs that Work Together Gen Y employees want to be involved in a collaborative way. Induction programs provide that connection, because they are structured around a learning community where new and veteran


employees treat each other with respect and all contributions are valued. To ask a Gen Y staff member to go solo in a networked world is writing that persons epitaph. Mentoring Is Not Enough Everyone in the world outside of South Africa trains their workers and


them working in teams.


food restaurants,

convenience stores, giant mega stores, legal firms, hospitals, and even non-profit organizations train their workers to a set of skills and standards. To maximize employee-learning performance, all companies must learn to •

teach to established standards,

evaluate the effects of their instruction on employee performance,


use staff achievement data for planning and curriculum,

tailor instruction to address specific learning needs, and

learn how to thrive in the culture of the company.

This kind of learning can only happen in an induction process that is comprehensive. What keeps good employees are structured, sustained, intensive professional development programs that allow new employees to observe others, to be observed by others, and to be part of networks, learning communities, or grade level/subject matter teams where all employees share together, grow together, and learn to respect each other's work. The Bottom Line The bottom line is obvious. Trained employees become effective workers and effective workers are the difference. Motivating and Training Gen Y (or Gen X) The above two concepts are inseparable, when you give someone the tools to do the job and make the expectations clear, they become more motivated. In reading and studying CRM (customer relationship management if you have been in a cave or working the front desk) notice that it is predicated upon accumulating guest history and preferences and solidifying the loyalty of that customer. This is based upon the premise that a retained customer is less expensive than obtaining a new customer.


While the above is a marketing truism, what the whole concept assumes is that we are providing the customer service to A) obtain correct information (garbage in – garbage out) and B) that the customer is experiencing a sufficient level of satisfaction to return. Both of these speak to the issue of customer service training. We assume that if we hire the right people, they will treat the guest well. The paradox of the present is that we may hire the right people but if we do not treat them well, they will not stay long enough to allow us to deliver a consistent level of customer service to the guest. Let us re-visit Eric Chester’s principles and add one more: 1. Let them know that what they do matters. When was the last time that you shared your customer service scores with your employees or read the good comment cards at a meeting of your employees? (When was the last time you had all-employee or departmental meetings?) 2. Tell them the truth. When did you last indicate exactly what was going on – as in we have half the hotel checking out today, it is going to be stressful but we can do it. 3. Explain why you are asking them to do it. When did you last explain to your employees that an athletic group might be difficult to serve but that it is a slow period and they account for revenue that helps the hotel achieve its budget?


4. Learn their language. When was the last time that you took the time to sit down and communicate to your employees, one on one, about what they did on their day off – the things they like to do? 5. Be on the look out for rewarding opportunities. When did you last hear or see an employee providing good customer service and praise them on the spot for a situation well handled? 6. Praise them in public. How often do you use an employee meeting to praise a housekeeper on bringing a lost item to your attention so you could contact the guest? 7. Make the workplace fun. Have you ever brought bubbles bottles to work and taken them to housekeeping just to be silly and play before they pick up their carts? This works with any generation in any language. 8. Model behavior. When did you last work the desk during a difficult check-in and show your associates the correct way to handle a difficult guest? Do you say negative things about guests within earshot of your employees? 9. Give them the tools to do the job. Why is it that our front desk, housekeeping and maintenance training is focused upon technical skills but includes virtually no training on the soft skills of customer service? Do not assume that they have empathy for the guest, know how to handle a difficult customer situation or understand what you expect in terms of servicing the guest if you do not communicate the


expectations and give them concrete skills to turn basic customer service into good or exceptional customer service. Understand and appreciate the challenges of Generation Y (Why) in order to recruit and retain this new wave of potential employees, but apply the principals to all of you employees. It’s ‘best practice’ management and it works with all employees



Managing the creative process Inspiring, Managing and Developing Your Creative Team Managing a creative team is uniquely challenging, and can be uniquely rewarding. This is partly down to the nature of creative business, in which each product is effectively a new prototype, and partly down to the character of a workforce composed of professional creatives. The situation is further complicated by the range of different types of managers in creative businesses, who may

have very

different concepts of 'management' itself.

There are three types of manager in the Creative Industries Senior Creatives As in many other industries, the top performers are usually the ones considered for promotion to management positions. Therefore, the best graphics designers, copywriters and games designers become Senior Designers, Team Leaders, Art Directors, and Creative Directors. Moreover, like their counterparts in other industries, they discover




performance are very different skills.





The advantages they bring to a management role include creative talent





understanding of junior creatives' situation.




Potential Achilles

heels include finding it difficult to 'let go' and become a facilitator rather than a doer; a temptation to micro-manage or 'over-direct' others' creativity. Professional Managers These are managers with a strong business background, but little or not experience of a creative role. Their advantages as managers include: good business knowledge; awareness of the manager's role as distinct from that of a creative; an ability to 'step back' and leave room for others' creative input. Achilles heels include lack of first-hand experience of the creative process, and a perceived culture clash between 'suits' and 'creatives'. Creative Entrepreneurs These are the founders of a creative enterprise, the people whose vision and drive are responsible for the creation and initial development of the company. They can combine a visionary, inspiring style of leadership with a very 'hands on' approach to management, liking to maintain involvement in all aspects of the running of the business. Their advantages as managers include: vision;






awareness. Achilles heels can include: a fear of losing control,


making them reluctant to delegate responsibility; a sense of urgency that makes them reluctant to invest time in 'people management'; and the business can become over-dependent on them, causing bottlenecks. What you want to avoid: Stifling creativity

You hire the best creatives you can find and afford, so the last thing you want to do is stifle their talent. Yet the pressures of the commercial environment, combined with the Achilles heels identified above, can lead to managers inadvertently constraining your team's talent, resulting in mediocre creative work. Missed commercial targets Fostering creativity is just one part of managing a creative team your managers also need to keep workers 'on brief' and within budget. Failure to do so can result in disappointed clients, falling sales and damaged partnerships and reputation - not to mention the direct impact on your bottom line.


Alienating or losing talented workers As well as maintaining a fine balance between creative and commercial requirements, managers must continually walk a tightrope in keeping talented creatives stimulated and motivated. Get the 'people management' of your valuable workers wrong and you risk puncturing their enthusiasm or losing them altogether to competitor. A stagnant talent pool Unlike many of your investments in technology, creative talent is one resource that should appreciate in value with time, as your workers learn and develop their talents. However, if your managers are not equipped to support your team's creative and professional development, you risk watching your talent pool stagnate and your investment depreciate. What you want to achieve: Creative AND commercial success Skilled creative managers are adept at getting the right balance between inspiring creative work and commercial success. They are able to monitor and influence their team's work so that the creatives use their talent to its full potential in meeting (or exceeding) the brief and attaining the commercial goals.

Clear communication,


listening, and feedback skills are crucial to keeping the team creatively inspired and commercially focused. Focused enthusiasm The competitive environment of the Creative Industries and the intrinsic interest of creative work means that most creatives are passionate about their work. They love a creative challenge. A skilled manager avoids doing anything that might dampen that passion, and will channel it in commercially relevant directions. S/he knows individual team members well enough to know when to challenge and when to offer support. The result is to focus creative enthusiasm on your business goals. Attracting and retaining top talent Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. If your managers are engaging the full enthusiasm of your creatives, this will be obvious not just in the quality of your creative output, but in your growing reputation as a stimulating and dynamic place to work. How our boss treats us is one of the key factors in determining our quality of life at work - if your managers have a reputation for balancing an inspiring challenge and appropriate support, they will act as talent magnets for your company. As well as attracting the best workers, you will be able to retain their services.


Adding value by developing talent

Managers who create an environment in which your creatives can learn and develop their talents are adding value to your workforce every single day. As well as providing creative workers with an inspiring challenge that keeps them focused on their own learning and development, these managers are helping you build the 'creative capital' of your business. In a creative economy, where the quality of your thinking and execution is key to your competitive strategy, this is one of the most valuable investments you can make.


Giving Feedback Feedback - How to Make it Effective

Let us look at the detail of giving feedback. Whether you want to reinforce behaviour, confirming feedback, or change unacceptable behaviour, productive feedback, there are certain steps you need to follow to make it work. 1. Do it ASAP - When you see or hear something, you do or do not as if you need to say something right away. If it is confirming feedback it is not much use saying something months later. - "I liked the way you handled that difficult customer a couple of months ago Dave." Dave is going to have a bit of a problem remembering that situation and the effect of the feedback is totally wasted. It also makes sense to give Dave productive feedback as soon as you see or hear something you do not like. If you do not do it right away then Dave will assume that you did not notice, that it does not matter, or that you do not care. 2. Do it in private - This seems like the most obvious thing to say but we still see managers giving a member of their team some productive feedback in front of other people be they colleagues or customers. Of course, it is usually more of a reprimand.


I think some managers believe that if they are seen and heard giving some feedback then it will have an effect on the other team members - you bet it will - it will totally de-motivate them! 3. Check that it is okay to speak - Always check that it is okay to speak. If one of your team has just finished speaking to a customer on the phone, they might have some admin things to do before they forget. If you interrupt then you risk being responsible for a customer







It is only good manners to check before speaking and your people will respect you for it. 4. Announce your intentions - If your people are not used to receiving regular feedback, what do you think runs through their mind when you pull up a chair or ring them on the phone - your right - they think it's bad news, that they've done something wrong or there's a problem. It is important therefore to tell them up front what you want to speak about. You might say - "Jill, I've just read your last report and I'd like to give you some good news." You then go on to give them some confirming feedback - and remember to make it descriptive.


5. Tell them how YOU feel about their behaviour - Your people work for the same organisation as you but it is you they have to please. So make sure, when you give feedback - it comes from you. That means not saying things like - "The Company doesn't like their employees to speak to customers like that." Alternatively - "It's not up to me but you'd better improve your performance or you'll be in trouble." You need to use lots of "I" messages. Get personally involved, say things like - "I liked the way you told that customer that you would deal with their problem yourself." Alternatively - "I'm unhappy with the way you told that customer that it wasn't your responsibility." On the other hand - "I believe there's another way to do that job." 6. Focus on one thing at a time - Do not confuse your team member with a whole list of behaviours. If it is confirming feedback then you do not want to be saying - "I like the way you handle customers, your reports are always done on time, and it's great that you're achieving your target." You are only diluting the whole feedback and it loses its impact. If you are giving productive feedback then you do not want to confuse your team member with a whole catalogue of behaviours that make you unhappy. Sadly, this seems to be the case with managers

who do


give feedback

on poor


immediately. They allow things to go on and on and then they


eventually explode. It is much better to deal with behaviour as and when it happens. 7. Be specific - When you are giving one of your team some feedback and coaching them - it is so important to focus on job related behaviour and not on the personality of the individual. If you feel a bit uncomfortable giving feedback, try to focus on the person's behaviour on the job in terms of how they conducted a particular task. That is what you are giving feedback on, not them as a person. It becomes easier if you are using "I" messages and being very descriptive about what you have seen or heard. You could say something like - "I liked the way you tided up the workshop after you finished that job - thank you Fred." You are trying to get the balance







8. Include the customer and the organisation - Whenever appropriate -relate what your feedback is about to how the customer was affected. This of course could be an internal or an external customer. You could also relate it to how the organisation was affected, if relevant 9. Get input - When giving productive feedback, it is important to get the team members input. You might say - "I'm unhappy that this is the third time this month that your report has been late Joanne.


However I'm willing to listen to what you have to say and discuss how we can resolve this situation." 10. Don't leave them low - This is particularly important after giving productive feedback. As I said earlier, this is not an attack on the person; it is about job related behaviour. A team member should come out of a productive feedback session with their sense of self-worth intact.



Management Few generations have had as big an impact on the working environment as Generation Y. Part of the reason for this is their sheer weight of numbers, part of it, and probably the biggest part, is the total difference in attitude towards life and work that comes with this generation. There is little doubt that this generation is leaving employers with a headache of a different type for getting them to do their work is one part of the challenge, retaining them to keep doing their work once they know how to do it is the other part of the challenge. This book will give the reader insight into the intricacies of Generation Y’s group mindset and the way the individual relates this to every part of their daily life, it will help the employer to interact with Generation Y in a way which appeals to them and which they not only appreciate, but insist on. However, as with every aspect of human interaction, it is important to realize that their will be individual differences, not every member of Generation Y feels reading a book is a waste of time and not every member of Generation Y is familiar with every new gadget on the market, but more than with any other generation preceding it, it is a safe bet to think that they do conform to the general attributes described in this book. A good point to start would be to review


Anna Ivey’s 15 laws for Generation Y; it provides a good platform for understanding the rest of the book. 1. Give them feedback. This generation is obsessed with feedback. Half the time, they are not even hungry for new feedback; they just want to hear, repeatedly, that the memo they wrote was well done, or that the presentation they gave was effective. What you think of as needy, they think of as a very natural. Moreover, if they are not doing well on the job, they are handing you the perfect opportunity to tell them so, because they do respond well to constructive feedback and mentoring. That hunger for feedback should make your life as a manager easier, even if you find the neediness a bit much in the short run. 2. Give them teams. In fact, they cannot work without them. In addition, if you do not let them work in teams, they will find a way to build them anyway. They hate making decisions by themselves, and they do not like to do things without getting six, eight, or twenty different opinions first. If you do not give them a group to run things by, they will seek opinions from their cubicle mate, their girlfriend, and their dentist. That approach can lead to crummy results, stunt their leadership growth, and paralyze them when they discover that seeking eight different opinions results in eight conflicting suggestions. However, those are all management issues that can be handled if you are


aware of them, and the upside is that you can use that preference for teamwork to pair up more senior employees with more junior ones -- pairings that everyone says they want, but that most employers do not make a priority. 3. Be prepared to negotiate. Since these young adults could talk, they have been negotiating with a generation of parents who have had a real distaste for imposing rules ("Here's why it's a good idea to wear your dancing Froggy raincoat today..."). They have spent their entire college careers negotiating grades and deadlines and feeling entitled to accommodations for anything under the sun‌ or having their parents do that for them. They do not respond to top-down orders because they have not encountered them before. Good luck trying to boss them around. This generation will question anything you ask them to do and expect to be persuaded why they should do what you are asking of them. Moreover, be prepared for mom and dad to jump in and try to negotiate on your employee’s behalf. 4. Give them many small deadlines. They cannot get anything done without them, and then they will wait until the last second to start. They treat their work assignments as if they were college term papers to be written the night before the due date. They have trouble with longer deadlines and project management, not least because they are used to their parents managing their lives for them. However, they are happy to learn


time management and project management techniques if someone is willing to teach them. 5. Flatter them. They think very highly of themselves. To older generations they seem arrogant and overconfident, and it is true that they have little respect for acquired wisdom, age, or a higher spot on the org chart. They will show up on their first day of work and think they can do your job better than you can. If you can see past your initial irritation, you might find them dropping some great ideas in your lap from day one. If you can harness that creativity and penchant for problem solving, your business will benefit. 6. Don’t assume technology knowledge. Despite what the media says, they are perceptive only about certain kinds of technology. They can type ten-page memos on the go with their thumbs and will happily program your cell phone for you, but many of them have only the most primitive experience using corporate workhorse software like Microsoft Office. Those magical little round things called bullets stump a surprising number of people and plenty of other basic features corporate veterans across the country take for granted. I have heard more than one twentysomething ooh and aah at a heavy-duty email program like Outlook because they have only ever used stripped down web-based services like Yahoo or Gmail.


The good news is that they are quick on the uptake and fearless about learning new technology.

The bad news is that they are

overconfident and will not ever confess ignorance about how to use a piece of software -- not because they're proud, but because it doesn't occur to them that they haven't already mastered it just by clicking a few buttons. Their overconfidence can sometimes wreak real havoc, so make sure to teach them the basics of productivity software even if they do not ask (and they will not - they will just hit that delete button, wipe out the database of your most important sales leads, and then cheerfully lecture you about how to use technology more efficiently). 7. Teach them how they are making a difference. After they get out of college, they go through various degrees of frustration as they realize they will not get paid well do to what is essentially volunteer work. Their entire childhoods and college applications have hammered into them that it is their volunteer work that makes them productive and decent human beings. Even when they come to realize that only private industry makes big pay cheques possible, on a daily basis they struggle with that tension between wanting to make six figures right out of the gate and dedicating themselves to non-profit work, especially when every day they are bombarded with images of Angelina Jolie and Bono living the good life while trying to solve third-world poverty. Understand that any Gen Y employee in the for-profit sector is going to feel that pull towards the non-profit world, so you have to


show them how they can do well while in private enterprise. 8. Give them flexibility. They are willing to work hard and think nothing of being "findable" at all hours -- they are permanently online anyway. In exchange, they do not want bosses to abuse that findability, and they expect the flexibility to mould their work lives around their personal lives. Do not haul them in over the weekend or make them eat their twentieth conference-room dinner in a row unless there is good reason. 9. Teach them how to work face-to-face. More experienced workers know that sometimes you need to sit in the same room to get something accomplished, but twentysomethings would rather just send you a text message. You will have to insist on a live meeting to get one. They also need to be taught how to interact professionally when meeting with clients and senior colleagues. 10. Teach them how to write. Their writing – especially professional writing – is atrocious. They are willing to learn if you are willing to teach them. College does not teach them how to write, and it is now your job to do so.


11. Assume they are venting about you online. They think nothing of complaining about work to the whole world on MySpace or their blogs and will happily use company email to complain about you, the company, the office refrigerator, and the idiot in the next cubicle. You may be surprised to discover what they are saying online, and you will likely have to have a conversation about the propriety of venting in public and using company resources to do so. 12. Tell them what you will do for them. That attitude may drive you crazy, but they think of employment as their birthright, and whatever current job they have as a temporary stop until they move onto something better. Get ready for the jumpiest resumes you have ever seen. Unemployment is not even considered as a possibility--they think that they can move into and out of jobs on a whim, and that there will always be opportunities available to them. They expect you to impress them. 13. Reward them intelligently. Young investment bankers work their tails off, but they do not gripe nearly as much as, say, young lawyers do because their work environment is much more of a meritocracy than a lock-step reward system. The best performers should be rewarded more than mediocre ones‌ quite a bit more. In addition, they can do math when it suits them. If that "bonus" you are paying amounts to R20 an hour in exchange for cancelled honeymoons or delayed surgery,


they're going to feel insulted no matter how high you drive up their base salaries. And finally: unlike Gen Xers back in the day, they aren't wowed by cool views or foosball tables or free junk food or even casual dress codes (much as they need a lesson on dressing professionally). They are, however, dazzled by the latest and greatest technology that lets them do their jobs more efficiently and get the heck out of the office. 14. Feed their entrepreneurialism. They consider themselves free agents, and however hard they work for you, they are plotting their escape to start their own ventures. The more you can indulge their entrepreneurial instincts on the job, the less likely they will be to defect. 15. Facilitate their lives outside of work. Once they are out in the working world, they are hungry for the intellectual growth and extracurricular opportunities they took for granted in school. Facilitating their continuing education and hobbies goes a long way toward keeping them happy‌ and on the job. Are there exceptions to these rules? Of course and the biggest ones are the children of parents who have struggled to break into the middle class. A Gen Y employee who grew up watching her immigrant parents split six jobs to make ends meet is not going to take any job for granted. And the employee who has been working


since age 9 at his family’s convenience store or gas station or restaurant isn’t going to entertain such romantic and untested notions about the glamour of self-employment. If you think all Gen Y hiring candidates are coddled and overprotected, you have not been looking hard enough. Use them, mentor and coach them, make them part of your business and understand them. The new generations are here to stay and will contribute to your business as well as achieve new heights in the future – provided you do not expect them to be a mirror image of you.



Conclusion In today’s business world, we need every advantage that we can possibly get. The pace and rate of change in businesses and technologies can be staggering to most senior executives and managers. The employees from Generation Y can, if managed properly, add value to a business. With the inordinate focus, businesses to day have to have on teams and contributions of teams in the workplace Generation Y employees are particularly well placed to add value to the workplace as their focus is mainly on teams and team contributions. The internalisation of technology may, if directed, alleviate the strain of older managers and executives to re-educate themselves on an iterative basis regarding these technologies when their energies may be better directed elsewhere. The differences in the management styles and requirements for generation Y are actually insignificant when judged against the changes that were required by the baby boomer generation. The call for fairness, interest, and recognition of worth is not endemic to generation Y but rather simple human requirements that have perhaps been long neglected in business.


Our research certainly, has supplied sufficient evidence to for us to state that the processes, mechanisms, and procedures suggested in this book would not under any normal circumstances place a onerous strain on business or management resources. It is our fundamental belief that this generation, like the ones preceding it and most probably like the ones that will come after, will have a small initial effect on the workplace that will, as we adjust, one to the other dissipate over time. However, will leave a lasting and indelible impression on workplaces, as we know them today. Rather than an event that fills, us with trepidation this should be embraced as positive change for us all. Generation Y will bring knowledge and perspectives, technologies and products, work ethics and mechanisms to our workplaces the likes of which we can hardly begin to imagine. Welcome to the future, welcome to generation Y!



Generation Y at Work  

As business struggle to come to terms with the multiple generations in their places of work and the conflict and communication barriers that...