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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Gen Y will lead to workforce management shake-up


The growing presence of Generation Y in the labour force will lead to new ways of working, generating radical change in the way that employers handle everything from staff retention and talent management to succession planning.

According to a global survey of 2,900 managers and graduates as well as 100 in-depth interviews conducted by the Ashridge Business School, one of the key issues is that Millennials frequently fail to understand where their managers are coming from and vice versa as they see the world of work through very different lenses.
Sue Honore, a research at Ashridge, said that today’s graduates had grown up with the X-Factor, Facebook and mobile phones, in a world of rapid technological change and shifting political and cultural norms, which meant that their priorities were not the same as those of previous generations.
“Gen Y is radically altering the employment landscape globally, and a new growing workforce will soon be stepping up and challenging traditional models within companies,” she explained.
But by capitalising on the unique strengths of this generation, it would be possible to create a better workforce as a whole, Honore believes. “All generations need to review their differences and find new ways of working for the future – both managers and Gen Y need to adapt to the changing world of work,” she said.
The report entitled ‘Culture Shock! Generation Y and their managers around the world’ revealed that managers viewed Millennials as very knowledgeable, globally- and socially-aware digital natives who were both unconventional and confident – all traits that needed to be managed and developed.
Expectation mismatch
However, although they admired their intelligence and energy, they were less keen on their pursuit of fame and recognition, their focus on self, their over-confidence and their lack of teamwork and respect.
But managers’ biggest concern in relation to this age group related to simply keeping hold of them once they were employed. On average, members of Generation Y were found to stay in a job for just two years as their priorities centred on having a varied career and ensuring that their personal ideals were met, which meant that they went elsewhere if they weren’t.
Millennials also expected speedy promotion to management positions, but their focus was on ‘working to live’ rather than ‘living to work’. As a result, while they put a high value on flexible working, they were less keen than their managers to put in the overtime.
This approach, combined with frequent job changes and a lack of ‘life skills’ (which includes emotional intelligence, communication and people skills) when compared with previous generations, meant that managers were seriously concerned that members of Generation Y were simply not gaining the in-depth experience necessary to become effective managers themselves.
Moreover, although today’s graduates had high expectations around career progression and undertaking challenging and interesting work in which they could effect change, their managers were looking for excellent technical and people skills, teamwork and an ability to adapt to the organisation instead – a situation that would appear to indicate a serious mismatch of expectations.
But despite their ambition, the Millennials questioned were largely disinterested in taking on their managers’ jobs or lifestyle, a scenario that is again likely to create challenges in terms of talent management and succession planning.
Despite getting on with their managers, many Generation Y-ers felt that many were simply coasting towards retirement and showed no interest in pushing through change. They were also perceived as acting in a superior way and failing to communicate information or decisions effectively.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett