Generation Y – What They Really Want

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Generation Y (GenY): a generation with new behavioral patterns and needs. Everyone talks about them and the hype around them surely has not gone unnoticed by any HR professional in the world. But amongst all the proclaimed needs and demands of this generation, I would like to take a closer look at those that will have a true and sustainable impact on our work lives.

Different expectations, different requirements

The expectations of employers and the demands of GenYs are often polar opposites. While the demands of these young managers have been reshaped by global trends, technical innovations and changed job profiles, the demands that are made ON them have changed just as much and are equally high. Soft skills are no longer a nice add-on, they are absolutely crucial. There are a number of HR tools and methods examining in advance certain competencies of potential candidates.

Shaping new work environments

A lack of loyalty towards one employer is often named as the number one identifier of GenY. If they are unhappy about a situation in the workplace, they change jobs sooner than the generations before them. That, however, doesn’t mean that these employers aren’t loyal. Loyalty now doesn’t necessarily mean anymore, to only work for one company. New technologies, changing job descriptions and virtual communication lead to more individualized work environments and times. One consequence of this is a new type of leadership style that is hard to implement without personal contact. The loss of “control” over an employee has to balanced by better target agreements or integrated team communication. Other ways include different motivational systems such as offering long-term development opportunities or including work-life balance and other aspects of an employer’s private life into the career planning.

The competitive advantage of SMEs

Organizations have to integrate social and technological changes, new organizational models are in the making. SMEs can be faster and more innovative in adapting to these changes since they are more flexible in implementing them. The goal has to be to retain employees in an innovative and sustainable manner. Due to their size and leadership style as well as the higher identification with the company by employees, SMEs often find it easier to implement internal Employer Branding. Studies have proven that in these companies sales and profit are directly linked to employee satisfaction and loyalty because the employees carry on the positive attitude towards their own company to the customers. This is where members of GenY become a success factor – their high levels of motivation, flexibility and service orientation let them see the customers as a part of the value chain.

Forecast 2020: Generation Z

While we are still talking about GenY, the next generation is already entering the job market: Generation Z. They grow up with smartphones and e-Learning. They get bored quickly, yet don’t tolerate boredom. They have not learned, nor do they want to learn, to listen for a longer period of time. GenZ expects a simpler and more convenient form of communication as well as even more individual support at work. The key with this generation will be virtual work environments and new communication channels. The current framework of employment will have to be changed yet again, including the minimization of over- and underchallenging tasks and an increase of independence. Trainings for teams and managers will be necessary, individual career planning of every single employee will be even more crucial in order to make the work routines more flexible. Employers who do their homework in at least four of these five areas will not only be well-equipped to handle GenZ but will also contribute to the satisfaction and retention of its employees.

Source: Prof. Dr. Arnd Albrecht in Unternehmer edition, October 2014

Prof. Dr. Arnd Albrecht
About Prof. Dr. Arnd Albrecht 29 Articles
Since 2010, Prof. Dr. Arndt Albrecht has been a professor for Human Resource Management and International Management at MBS. In addition, he is the Academic Program Director of the Bachelor International Business program. Prof. Dr. Albrecht is involved in research and consulting activities at MBS as well as in his consulting company where he supports industry projects in terms of HRM, leadership and change management. After completing his doctorate, he worked as an international senior manager in the pharmaceutical industry and as a strategic consultant for SMEs and corporations. Prof. Dr. Albrecht is a certified business coach and holds an MBA from Henley Management College.