Generation Y in the Workplace

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Workplace diversity isn't just about race and gender. In this lesson you'll learn how Generation Y is unique in the workplace and three things that supervisors of Millennials must know.

Definition of Generation Y

While there are no strict definitions of when a specific generation begins and ends, most tend to cover about a 20-year period. For Generation Y, the population sometimes called Millennials, that 20-year period is generally agreed to include people born from around 1980-2000.

Based on the 1980-2000 time frame, about half of Generation Y is now entering the full time workforce. While Generation Y accounts for about 25% of the U.S. workforce now, that will increase to 50% by 2020. As employees from Generation Y become more common in the workplace, they will most certainly make their mark, but during that time existing colleagues and managers need to understand how to work with and manage Millennials.

How Millennials Are Different

As with any term that attempts to classify a group of people together, it is only generalizable to the population; it does not mean that every single person in that group can be characterized by every group characteristic. That being said, the following few characteristics are the ones most commonly attributed to Generation Y.

Millennials Understand Technology

Most Millennials don't remember a time without computers, the Internet, and cell phones. While that means they are comfortable with technology, it also means they have grown up with information at their fingertips, learning how to be incredibly efficient, and working in intense, short bursts of energy.

While much of this technological savvy sounds goods, there are drawbacks. Millennials tend to be very dependent on technology. Because they are used to thinking in search terms, posts, and 'tweets,' they tend to be poor professional writers. Of course, that is a broad generalization, but when managers of Millennials are asked what concerns they have, quality of writing is a common answer.

Millennials Expect Flexibility

Millennials have learned to get things done their way. Their end products are excellent, but their methods are very different than those of their Baby Boomer colleagues. They don't want to be micromanaged. They don't want to be boxed in.

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