We are all Gen Y

There is a lot of stereotyping with regard to Generation Y – especially about their idea of how work should be:

  • Work is an interruption to a sabbatical,
  • Work should be fun,
  • Work should have a deeper meaning,
  • and, ideally, it should allow for a good work-life balance.

We tend to think of Gen Y as if they were a new species of human being as Barbara Liebermeister writes.

But we’re all Gen Y

We, the older generation, hold ideals that are no so very different. What drives us forward in our jobs? Certainly it’s not just material incentives such as salary or company car. We need to experience success, we want to make a contribution and we don’t ever want to lose ourselves through work.

Gen X and Gen Y: Same drive, different behavior

So: In terms of motivation there’s no difference between the older generation and Gen Y.   It’s only in the way the two groups communicate and how they resolve conflicts that they go their separate ways. If a boss gives an order that his employees consider doesn’t make sense, a member of Generation Y may well voice her dissatisfaction or even refuse to carry out the instruction. Members of Generation X complete tasks even if they do not identify with them – although they put less effort and heart’s blood into the task – and thus practice a sort of resistance, albeit concealed.

Gen Y as universal mood barometer

Gen Y can be seen as a mouthpiece for all age groups in companies: They verbalize what everyone else is thinking. And that gives managers a huge opportunity to learn what their employees really need in order for them to make the maximum contribution to the success of the company. Open feedback helps to question strategies, projects and the manager’s behavior and generally leads to significantly better results. So take Gen Y seriously, take the needs of all your employees seriously – and make your organization a better place to work for the whole team.

How do you treat different age groups in your company? Do you believe, as we do, that Gen Y are simply the voice of all generations? And do you think it makes sense to orientate the company to their needs?


Photo Credit:
Caleb Ekeroth via Unsplash.

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