- Engaging generation Y employees: individuals born after 1980 who are perceived as having particularly high expectations about the level of support they will receive, the availability of technology and opportunities for collaboration and quick career progression.
- Retaining older boomers or members of the silent generation (like me in the photo).
People tend to have their own opinions on this and to believe that generations are different, or that they aren’t, but actually there is neuroscience evidence to show that brains of younger people are developing in a different way to those in the older generations. (Though I do think the recession muted some of gen Y’s wildest expectations about employment!)
This isn’t just about age. A 20 year old today will have a very different way of thinking to a generation X’er was when they were 20. The theory is that generational change occurs because of the different experiences they have when they are teenagers.
But actually I don’t think it’s just teen years that are important now. The effect of the economic shocks experienced during the last few years will have been profound and will probably impact the behaviour of a mid-20s millennial more than the things which were happening when they were a teenager. But we’ve all experienced this recent turbulence so this may also mean the differences between generations are now somewhat less than they were up to 2008.
I certainly think generation y is largely a mindset not an age bracket. Technological savvy comes with experienced regardless of whether you've been bathed in or grown up with bits. And the demands for involvement, ethical behaviour and the ability to progress are things I think most employees of all generations would want from their employment.
It’s also important to note that, as I described in my last post, both age and generation are only two of the factors that lead to different behaviour.
Plus generational differences will be impacted by these other factors too, eg a Saudi woman will have very different experiences in their teenage years from an American man (although there is probably some truth in the suggestion that millennials are more similar in nature globally than past generations have been).
I sat through a presentation on generations from a Saudi HR professional at a Dubai conference I was speaking at a few years back and he had clearly just lifted a USA based presentation which made no sense in the UAE never mind Saudi Arabia. It’ this sort of nonsense which gives the whole topic the ‘generation blah’ description but then that’s not fair either. We just need to use research and employment models sensibly and with a bit of thought.
And again, all of this means that that things are now very complex and that what we really need to do is to treat each individual, not just each generation, differently.