Generation Y (called Gen Y or the Millennial Generation) refers to the group of people that were born in the mid 1970s to the early or mid 1990s. Their parents generally belonged to the “Baby Boomers.” Because of the rapid growth of the baby boomers, there was a burst of births in the 1980s, which were then called the “Echo Boomers”. It is these “Echo Boomers” that make up the largest contingent of Generation Y.
As members of the Y generation populate the workforce, much has been written about their differences in attitudes and competencies. They have already make a very strong impact to modern organizational culture. Their skills in technology, requirements for work/life balance, strong, personalized communication, and desire to shift work and projects have changed corporate culture. Some of the early characterizations of Gen Y employees may have been more stereotypes than fact-based assessments; however, they are typically known as having:
- Independent financial skills: They don’t wish to rely solely on employer sponsored retirement plans, having witnessed the dot com implosion and major corporate layoffs and restructuring.
- A desire for flexible hours: Gen Y employees have grown up with the Internet, which has largely de-centralized the work environment away from the traditional office. They expect work to accomodate this natural progression, and have work counted as work, no matter where it happens.
- A need for work-life balance: Members of Gen Y have witnessed a prolonged period of war, 9/11, high unemployment, the dot-com bust, and the financial collapse. They typically have strong commitments to personal and family life, perhaps because of seeing this turmoil.
- Direct communication: Gen Y members have grown up in the information age, which affected communication technology more than anything else. They have (on average) more regular contact with their friends and family, and may prefer a socially engaged work environment.
When developing programs designed to recruit Y Generation Members, it may be important to emphasize these desires and competencies. A recruitment campaign that emphasizes independent financial management, flex hours, work/life balance, and a friendly and technology savvy workplace environment may do particularly well with this demographic.