Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

Generation Y v Success

Building on from the previous blog on Generation Y, I began reading blogs by this dynamic new group entering the workplace. If I am going to attract, engage, recruit, develop and engage (again) Generation Y, then I need to understand what they want from my company. The Baby Boomers looked at multination corporations for the sense of security that they perceived such organisations offered. The idea was to work long hours, and see effort and sweat rewarded with promotions. The aim was to build life-long relationships with their global employers. It was definitely not good to have more than one or two companies on your CV – “What’s wrong with this person?”, “Why has s/he job hopped so much?”


Fast forward to the 21st Century and things have changed. Generation X initiated the change, a response to the removal of the job for life that baby boomers enjoyed. New phrases like downsizing, and organisational reengineering / restructuring / resizing etc etc hit the corridors and meeting rooms of the safe companies. So, if the hard graft of 50+ hour weeks and a diminished or non-existent personal life was offset by long term career stability, what will Generation Y look for?


There has been largely unfair criticism that Generation Y is less ambitious that previous generations just because they have refused flat out to sign up to corporate doctrine of the long working hours and the hard slog without something in return. Generation Y is just as ambitious as previous generations. But rather than success being defined for them as it was for the baby boomers, and to some degree Generation X, Generation Y seems to want to define what success is for them as individuals, than for one collective group reading the marketing literature at the university or corporate careers fair.


Society is full of influencers – our personal circle (family and friends), educational institutions, corporations, the mass media (more mass by the year). Who I am to tell anybody what Generation Y wants? I’m just Generation X, the ones impacted by the switch of the job for life to the job for as long as you have one. I’m part of the group who first saw the possibility to adapt to the new realisation. Generation Y though seem to be laying down a marker for what they want when we ask them: to be happy; both personal and professional development, and that means allowing them time away from the workplace to do so; they are more aware of and interested in corporate social responsibility than previous groups and like helping others; they want to develop all relationships, not just those in the meeting rooms or those that will allow them to climb a company ladder quicker. Whatever it is that they want, we need to think about engagement not just during an interview process, but during the entire employee life cycle.


It seems that for HR departments and multinationals wanting to engage and attract Generation Y talent into their workforce, there is a need to switch their thinking. Rather than telling Generation Y what success means in their companies, they should ask them.


September 23, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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