Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, are the fastest growing workforce in our economy. Within the next decade, it is expected that this generation of people, born roughly between the late 70’s to the late 90’s, will be the majority of the workforce in the US. This will have a large impact on our businesses, mostly due to cultural and technological habits this generation was raised using. So what makes “Y” so different, and how will it change how we do business?
The “Echo Boomers” as some would call them, are much more open to technology than some of the Gen-X staff that are still working the top roles. In a survey done of almost 8000 college students, Gen-Y’s used technology at a much higher rate than other generations. 97% of the respondents said they owned a computer, 94% owned a cell phone, and 56% owned an MP3 player. 76% of those surveyed used instant messaging (92% of them multi-tasked while doing it), 40$ got their news from television and 34% got it from the internet. Unlike their parents (baby boomers or Gen-X) they Millennial Generation grew up with technology all around them and have grown with it. This makes accepting new technology and implementation of new ideas much easier for them than for other groups. Anyone who has tried to teach an older relative how to use email, or the concept behind wireless internet knows how difficult this can be. Imagine having a workplace where everyone is tech savvy, a whole office of Digital Natives that is accepting to new technology, and understands when you explain something technical. As someone who has worked in IT for years, that sounds like heaven.
Generation Y isn’t perfect. In fact, they have another name they go by. Generation Me. Writers all over have consistently said this is the most narcissistic and self-absorbed generation ever. This behavior has had its benefits though. It has led to improvements in personal devices to make life easier for me and has increased levels of confidence across the board. This is also the most tolerant generation, accepting more cultures and ideals of others. The problem with generation ME, they expect to just start at the top without working their way up. Some say this is due to the economy and influence of parents when they were younger. I have had friends say “We were told to go to college so we wouldn’t have to flip burgers, then when I graduate and can’t find a job, they tell me I am stuck up for refusing to flip burgers.” It is a difficult problem to face, and one that many share right now.
So why do employers want these younger staff? There are multiple reasons, even beyond the technical aspect. Not only do they require less training on anything technological, but they are more flexible in their hours, ability to travel, and have more entrepreneurial spirit. In the next 10 years, offices will be full of them, and hopefully it will make communication, hardware or software rollouts, and working in general easier on all of us.