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Globally, the term Generation Y also called gen next, gen Y, millenials, echo boomers, iGen, etc. is used to refer to the demographic group of individuals born to the Generation X or 'baby boomers'. So the name is taken after the Generation X that preceded them. Definition ofÂ Generation Y as per Oxford Dictionary describes the generation born in the 1980s and early 1990s, comprising primarily the children of the baby boomers and typically perceived as increasingly familiar with digital and electronic technology.
However, assuming that the generations are comparable across geographical and cultural boundaries is absolutely misleading. On one hand, West speaks of generation X and generation Y having more or less standard birthdates for the demographic cohorts ranging between time duration from1960s to 1990s. Alternatively, in China, Japan and South Korea during the same timespan, there have been respectively 4-6 generational groups which have been defined differently and with different names and birth periods. According to Indian experts, it is difficult to reach consensus on what really comprises of India's Gen X and Y as they are treated as mere euphemisms for the country's youth in general, i.e., they are not separated by decades rather they collapse onto each other. So to assume that gen Y in China or India is equivalent to that of gen Y in the US, Germany or Europe is to oversimplify the matter.
Objective of this paper is to
Understand the term "Generation Y" and its characteristics
Understand the role of technology in lives of Generation Y
To see the role of Social media and its impact on new generation employees
To analyse the practices and strategies followed by companies
This paper is primarily conceptual in nature and critically analyses the popular notions related to generation Y.
The emergence of Generation Y, people born between early eighties to mid-nineties as a demographic cohort, is driving dramatic change in practically all fields including education, technology, media and most critically work. It is the first generation to have grown up with undaunted exposure to digital technologies and freely adopted these tools as their primary mechanism for communication, information gathering and sharing.
Gen Y makes up 25% of today's workforce, estimated at almost 80 million in US (as per a study on "Live Births and Birth Rates by Year," www. infoplease.com) and is the most rapidly growing segment of the workforce. So, it is imperative for the companies to understand the unique characteristics of the group so as to design systems and processes incorporating their needs, desires and attitudes which effectively engages and motivates the employees.
Terminology - Generation Y
The term "Generation Y" first appeared in the early 1990s. Advertising Age, a marketing trade magazine, has been attributed with using this term in an editorial in 1993, as a way to differentiate the group from Generation X. Gen Y is also often referred to as "Millennials" and "Echo Boomers."
Definitions of who makes up Gen Y differ greatly. Aite Group defines the term as anyone born between 1979 and 1990, or those between ages 21 and 31. Another method uses overlapping 20-year periods, such as baby boomers (1945-1965), Gen X (1961-1981) and Gen Y (1979-1999). This definition used by Javelin, puts Gen Y consumers between ages 13 and 33 in 2012.
Gen Y's Behaviors and Characteristics
Gen Y is the generation of techno-savvy, digitally inclined twenty to thirty year olds, increasingly dominating the workplace and its workings. They have grown up in a world surrounded by modern gadgets and rapid technological transformation - it took 50 years for radio to reach an audience of 50 million, followed by 13 years for TV and just two years for facebook to reach this milestone. The IT revolution is an integral part of their life and as such the challenges with respect to such a dynamic workforce requires continued efforts by the companies to handle it.
It is important to realise that the Generation Y might bring certain superior skills to the job, especially technology areas but may not necessarily have the wisdom and life experience needed to apply these skills. So, the companies must understand the specific traits of Generation Y which will ensure that their talent is effectively utilized and appreciated and furthermore their skills are spread to older employees.
Tech-Savvy:Â Generation Y is the first generation to grow up with technology and have been extensively using various electronic gadgets such as laptops, tablets, cellphones, internet, etc. About 95 percent of them have a facebook profle or other social networking sites like myspace, linkedin, twitter, flickr and so on. They are plugged-in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They prefer to communicate through e-mail, text messaging rather than face-to-face contact and prefer webinars and online technology to traditional lecture-based presentations (Javelin, 2009).
Work-life balance:Â Unlike older generations, the fast-track career does not appeal Generation Y who is willing to swap high pay for fewer billable hours, flexible schedules and a better work/life balance. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options and the ability to work part time as required. Generation Y professionals have a different vision of workplace expectations and prioritize family over work; they place high value on self fulfilment.
Financial Smartness: Gen Y is attuned to the issues like good healthcare benefits, saving for old-age, and generally being financially secured.
Self-esteem and Independence: Gen Yers have a positive, can-do attitude which encourages them to take on responsibility and accomplish anything. They are also comfortable and confident of undertaking independent projects and assuming individual responsibility.
Achievement-Oriented:Â Generation Y wants meaningful work and a solid learning curve. They seek out creative challenges and view colleagues as vast resources from whom to gain knowledge. Generation Y is confident, ambitious and goal-oriented and follow speak-your -mind philosophy, i.e. question the authority without any fear.
High expectations of self and of employers:Â They aim to work faster and better than their colleagues. Also, they want fair and straight-forward managers who are highly engaged in their professional development.
Attention-Craving:Â Generation Y craves attention in the forms of feedback, positive reinforcement and guidance. Generation Y may benefit greatly from mentors who can help guide and shape their young careers.
Climate of entrepreneurship, progress and trust:Â Generation Y wants to operate entrepreneurially within the corporation which must provide them control over their time, activities and budgets. Gen Y links progress to adapting, creating and experimenting rather than following the tried and tested methods. Many beliefs about progress have roots in Edison's revolutionary notions of innovation, collaboration and competitiveness (Sarah Miller, 2012).
Terminology - Social Networking
Figure - anonymous sourceSocial networking websites are online networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others
Social networks connect people at low cost
Most social network services are web-based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, email, video, chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups, etc.
Below are some quick facts on social networking (online source)
Social networks now represent the fastest growing internet segment - almost thrice the rate of overall internet growth
Social networking sites are growing at the rate of 55% annually, reaching two thirds of the total web users
Social networking and blogging are now the 4th most popular online activities, according to a recent research
5 hrs/week = average time Job seekers use social media
30% of Google searches are job related - 250 million per month
Social Media Evolution for Generation Y employees
Social mediaÂ is a HUGE component in the life of a Gen Yer. If we get to relate it to Maslow's Basic Hierarchy of Need, social media may be placed just above the physiological needs (Derek Vicente, 2012). Organizations can no longer ignore the evolution of social media and its internalization in the workplace, especially as it relates to recruiting the younger workforce or Gen Y. The demographic weave of the workforce is undergoing a major shift as baby boomers reach retirement age and more than 80 million millenials are expected to hit the job market around the same time (Sandra Leone, 2012). So, it is imperative for any company to adapt to the new trend and leverage social tools in the workplace to be seen as desirable by the young workforce
The emerging workforce has grown up connecting and collaborating through Social networks like orkut, facebook, twitter, linkedin. They expect and seek availability of social tools in the workplace. These tools are utilised by the employees to capture knowledge, overcome information gaps, collaborate and communicate with the social communities in real time. Gen Y prefers to collaborate, work in team environment and thereby building strong network relationships with co-workers, departments, throughout company and even globally. Incorporating social media in workplace has enabled an increase in productivity and provides a more efficient workplace. Social business is the way of the future and the younger workforce desires those companies who have adopted enterprise social collaboration tools for daily use.
It becomes clear thus that the Gen Y employees favours working in real-time, adopting new technology trends and working with social tools in the workplace. So, adoption of means of recruitment through social media becomes critically important for the companies to successfully recruit promising Gen Y talent.
Generation Y in workplace (not complete)
There are certain key motivation factors in play for the Generation Y employees viz.
Freedom and feedback