There’s a lot of interesting writing and research coming out now and recently about Generation Y. Ipsos Mori are publishing their research into differences in political opinions of different generations and a recent Economist report on politics among young people in the UK showed that Generation Y (or as they are also known, the Millennial Generation) are also more likely to hold liberal political views.
But there has also been discussion around inter-generational problems in the workplace, caused in many cases by clashes between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Part of this criticism stems from older workers over what they see as the ‘entitlement’ mentality of Generation Y in their attempts to transform the workplace to suit their own needs. Generation Y feel entitled to good jobs, to work that blends better with their lives outside work, to work that has meaning, and to be evaluated on performance, not presence at work.
A recent Squire Sanders LLP employment law blog argues that rather than avoiding inter-generational conflict by not recruiting such demanding younger workers there are big advantages to businesses in recruiting ‘entitled narcissists’.
They argue for diversity in the workplace in general, and diversity is steadily becoming a reality for businesses to survive, rather than simply the politically or legally correct thing to do. Diversity is particularly important in this case as what Generation Y employees demand from their workplaces is also what will place organisations well in terms of recruiting employees of all ages (flexible working, a brand to associate with, meaningful work, recognition rather than money as a reward, a career rather than a job …).
Generation Y or Millennial workers are also important for business as they represent the new generation of customers and this presents another case for their inclusion in any organisation. Brian Havig at Gyro argues that the demands and sense of entitlement of Generation Y customers represent a kind of wake-up call for businesses.
Generation Y customers will test services as they expect more from what they buy. They will also test workplaces. In short, this is another area in which employers should be working to embrace a diverse workforce. Those younger workers who wind you up because they demand more may actually be the voice in your organisation who are driving up standards. They irk older workers because they demand much more than previous generations did, and without trade union bargaining. They will form part of the evolution of the workplace: those organisations who survive may well do so because they listened to the new generation of their workforce and managed to satisfy and retain them.