Generation Y: Beyond Conventional Wisdom

In a recent study on Generation Y, Deloitte found that the attitudes of the Y towards work were "strikingly similar" to those of other generations. Really? A portrait of a new generation of workers beyond conventional wisdom.


For the comparative 'The Future of Work – Reorientation Guide' study, Deloitte surveyed 502 Canadian professionals and asked them about their perceptions of working life. Although it lets us see some interesting similarities between the different generations, it also confirms tenacious ideas about Generation Y.


Among similar attitudes, we learn that the Y share the same workplace ideals as those of other generations. They wish to contribute to the increase in the value of the organizations they work for, and positively change things. They are also satisfied with their current work situation and have similar positive perceptions on the image of their company.


The different generations surveyed also believe that communications should have a formal character, but be less compliant with strict methods and hierarchy. They are attracted to the same type of work environment and prefer office work rather than working from home.


The generalization trap

According to the Deloitte study, "all humans are alike and all that distinguishes Gen Y from other generations is that they adapt quicker to different concepts of work as well as rapid technology and new media changes."


Stéphane Simard, speaker, author and consultant to companies seeking to better understand Generation Y, says "it is not wrong, but we should not sweep the different belief systems between generations under the carpet, thinking all this will eventually resolve itself. It will, of course, evolve, but there are also profound changes taking place, which upsets the workplace. If employers do not understand this then they cannot improve the situation. We must therefore accept these changes. Being better able to adapt is the key to success for businesses."


A question of individuals, not generations

"The issue is more complex and differences are more on the individual level than the generational one," says Simard. This is what he often must remind his clients of. The study's results support his statement, which states that "the trends that are now emerging in the workplace fall under intergenerational frictions and it is their development that will make the workplace more productive and more fulfilling."


The individual must surpass the generation. Only then does the employer get to truly understand their needs. Beyond the study, these ideas and new attitudes, both our expert and the Deloitte report stress on the importance of adapting. Simard says there are many strategies to getting there. Recognizing employee potential and effort, which is what Generation Y expects, puts you on the fast track towards improvement.


"The studies are interesting, but sometimes they lead employers to forget the real issues," says Simard. This may sound surprising, but he notes that while some companies are already wanting to know what to expect from the generations to come, many are still struggling to even understand the Y.

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