Gen Y — Powerhouse of the Global Economy

by Jobbatical January 14, 2015
Photo: Paul Inkles via Flickr

Sometimes research becomes quickly dated as things around it move onwards. And sometimes the ideas appear more and more insightful, until you look back at it and wonder if the originators had a crystal ball at their disposal. Such is the case with a 2009/10 report from Deloitte, looking at Generation Y and their impact on the workplace. Describing this millennial generation as the ‘Powerhouse of the Global Economy’ was somewhat outspoken at the time, as the usual caricature of a millennial entering the workforce showed her surrounded by the rainbows and fairy dust of her over privileged, pampered mind, knocking on the CEO’s door and requesting — demanding, even — that he step aside, for her time had come.

And in the middle of this, Deloitte cleared their throat and, with a triumphant flourish, got on with describing the workplace strengths of Gen Y, with a suggestion that employers adapt to draw them out, rather than howl at the moon because these young up-starts are different.

And so, some years later, and with more change in the global scenery than even the soothsayers at Deloitte could have predicted, the differences highlighted seem even more important than ever.

Gen Y are confident at a time of high anxiety

At the time the report was written, the global economy had been hit hard, and turbulent economic times were clearly ahead. The last few years have proved to be an ongoing roller coaster in many markets — and the confidence shown by the Gen Y employees questioned at the time will surely have seen them make the most of the opportunities that could be found within the rapidly moving economic scenery. This strength of the millennial generation is at least as important — probably even more so — now, than it was five years ago.

Gen Y value opportunity over job security

At the time of the survey, only 7.9% of respondents said they were seeking greater job security, with over half reporting that they were looking for opportunities to broaden their horizons, advance themselves and gain new experiences at work. The idea of a job for life has been lost with this generational shift. Whilst our parents grew up with the notion of workplace stability and security, and were hit hard by the demise of this idea, we have grown up with change and movement, and see changing roles, employers, and even careers, not as a burden but as an opportunity.

Gen Y wants — and is receiving — more responsibility earlier

One thing most commentators seem to agree on is the confidence that has been observed in Gen Y — although this is characterised both as a strength, borne out of vision, motivation and maturity beyond our years; and as a weakness we are lumbered with due to doting parents and an over-use of cotton wool in our childhood. But the truth is that we are being put into positions of responsibility, rising through the ranks in ever leaner organisations, or starting up businesses ourselves. As this trend accelerates, the Gen Y aptitude for taking on more, more quickly, is vital to our success.

Gen Y trusts superiors and wants to work with them

The final observation of Deloitte, that Gen Y trust and wish to work with their superiors, is just as applicable in and outside of corporate life. Millennials want to learn, and we learn best from those who have already trodden the path we are walking, Whether that is a start-up founder taking a mentor, or a corporate employee asking for advice from his boss, our confidence does not stretch to the suggestion we know it all already.With the global economy still rapidly moving, jobs for life a distant notion, and the world of work being irrevocably altered in the process, the strengths of Gen Y are what will make us successful as individuals, and continue to push society forward.

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References: — Generation Y: powerhouse of the global economy Restless generation is a challenge–and a huge opportunity–for employers

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