Generation Next Changes the Face of the Workplace In a report on

Generation Next Changes the Face of the Workplace
In a report on changing generations in the workplace, Judy Woodruff of PBS uncovers
some stark differences that will have drastic affects on the workplace in coming years.
According to Jo Muse, the CEO of Muse Communications, Generation Y, those workers
in their early 20’s, want different things than did the Baby Boomers. Muse cites time as
one major issue – Generation Y workers want time off sometimes as early as six months
into their employment with a company and they don’t care if its paid or not.
This is very different than the way work was viewed by the Baby Boomers who “paid
their dues” or “put in their time” before expecting such perks. Muse feels that perhaps
the Generation Y wants the seniority system as we now know it to be “thrown out the
door”. Generation Y is an ambitious group who expect and strive for financial success by
their 30’s or 40’s. According to one of Muse’s Generation Y workers, everything they
have had up to now was “microwaveable” – in other words, instantaneous – and they
expect this with their careers as well.
According to Stan Smith who works for the Next Generation Initiative project for
Deloitte-Touche, the generations all view work differently. Baby Boomers are all
“Work. Work. Work” and Generation X would say “Work. Work. Wanna work some
more? Let’s talk about it”. Generation Y however, would say “Work. Work. You want
me to work even more? How lame!”. Employers are trying to adapt to these younger
worker preferences. They have no choice – due to basic supply and demand, as the Baby
Boomers retire, there will be less and less workers to replace them.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the generations is the acceptance of
technology. Generation Y is a very tech-savvy group which influences their workplace
expectations. According to Smith, for them, technology is an extension of how they
relate to people which changes how they work. Through technology, they can work
anyplace anytime.
When talking with members of the Generation Y, Woodruff found that this group
describes themselves as being tech-savvy and some cited technology as being the biggest
difference between them and their parents. For example, one Generation Y’er said his
parents would pull out maps to plan a trip, where he would simply use Google Local.
According to Jaclyn DeLammetres, a member of the Generation Y, they feel they deserve
jobs that are creative, interesting, and fast-paced where they can be their own boss.
This group has been told they are smart, different and special and they bring these
attitude, along with their technology skills to the workplace. Smith’s Next Generation
Initiatives program at Deloitte provides young workers with confidential career
counselling as well as online tools that allow them to learn about their strengths and
weaknesses. Through the efforts of the Next Generation Initiatives program, Deloitte has
retained over 700 employees who would have left saving nearly $100 million in
employee turnover costs. According to Smith, this worker trend is more than just a
“phase of life’ issue and countering its effects is not an option, it’s a reality.
Questions for Discussion
1. Why is addressing this issue so important? Shouldn’t workers adjust to meet the needs
of their employers?
2. What can employers who can’t afford such extensive programs as the Deloitte
organization do to address the changing preferences of their younger workers? What
would you like to see your employer or prospective employer do to address your wants
and needs to retain you?