Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

Generation Y and the changing way we work

I recently interviewed a candidate born in 1990, and began thinking. To this person the Cold War meant as much as the Vietnam War did to me – I know it happened, because I’ve read history books and watched countless movies. I never actually lived it though. My candidate may have understood the importance of the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the concept of an East and a West Germany, may have even read a John Le Carre novel, but she never lived them.

I read a report this week that Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1997, will be the dominant age group in the workforce in ten year’s time. As the baby boomers , those born between 1946 and 1964, leave the workforce, so we will have to rethink our workspace, our office design, and our recruiting and retention strategies. We are facing an important generation shift, according to a 2010 report (see link below for credit and full article on

According to the article Generation Y rates high the importance of having an “engaging workplace” and low the “quality of meeting rooms”. Baby Boomers on the other hand, stated the exact opposite. Whereas Gen Y likes quick and casual meetings, so the Baby Boomers liked structured, face-to-face meetings, because that’s how they usually got things done.

To baby boomers the office location, size and décor was a status marker. In contrast to Gen Y, a status symbol is more likely to be the latest gadget. As somebody involved in helping to set HR strategy, it’s more important than work life balance; it’s more about a blended work-life approach, about learning and development opportunities, involvement in interesting projects, and an engaging and connected work environment.

Work is becoming an activity for Gen Y, and not the place that it was perceived by the Baby Boomers. There is a shift from the Baby Boomer’s idea of the fixed, elegant office to the functional office of Gen X and now the Gen Y trend where employees are encouraged to move around, and change work space according to their tasks; Gen Y is seeking collaboration and innovation.

So where does that leave those of us that were born in between, the so called Generation X? (those born between 1965 and 1978). Whereas the Baby Boomers had jobs for life, Gen X grew up with financial and work insecurity. Gen Y on the other hand not only does not seek job security, they accept a pact with companies, “You can remove me whenever you like. And I can look for a new job whenever I like.” Gen X fought for job security, until experience told them it didn’t exist. Gen Y doesn’t even look for it.


September 8, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: