I am a Generation Y, Millennial, Generation We, Global Generation, Generation Next and Net Generation employee.
Young professionals are called by a variety of names, but one can be certain that the next generation of employees bring a new set of challenges and advancements to the workplace. Much research is being done to characterize and categorize the individuals born after “Generation Xers” in the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s. Investigations are being done to learn the traits and values, the wants and needs and the identity of this group. These studies are targeted to simplify and learn the similarities and differences from previous generations, how to market them, how to inspire them, how to engage them and how to relate to them. Over the next few posts, I will challenge the central issues identified, offer insight and propose solutions to answer many of the burning questions of this new workforce, the Millennials.
As one in this group, I can say that characterizing this group is just as difficult as characterizing any group of individuals before them as it is a diverse group.
We are the engineers and musicians; we eat fast food and organic food; we dress in custom 3-piece suits and in thrift shop hand-me-downs; we have made huge medical advances and cat videos.
We have great jobs and no jobs; we drive forward in jobs we love and are dissatisfied with jobs outside of our passion; we are transitioning into adulthood, some with open arms and some with great regret.
We are idols and idles; we are followers and leaders; we are nature lovers and corporate commanders; we are diversity and uniformity. Just like generations before us we are driven by advancement, money, culture, interaction and achievements. We are similar to previous generations, where we cannot simply be categorized and classified in full by a simply diagram or description due to such variation in individualism.
Just like every new generation, one generation inherits the values and problems of the generation before it – evaluating each value and creating new values along the way. Looking at previous generations, there is the generation during the World Wars and Great Depression, the generation during expansion and globalization, and the technology generation. Seeing these groups categorized like this, one can begin to understand the values of each and how each was impacted by the economy. During the generation in the early part of the 20th century, many of the values were among sustainability, being able to hold onto what one has and set up future generation successes – building a foundation by providing and sustaining the physiological and safety essentials. This instilled the values of frugality, sustainability, and community.
During the Boomers and Generation Xers, globalization was developing and rapid expansion lead to large opportunities around the world – building a foundation of belonging and confidence. From the previous generation it instilled the value of stability and sustainability, but added the values of growth, opportunity, and achievement.
For the current generation of Millennials, Generation Y and Z, technology and digitization is underway, building a foundation of creativity and morality.
From the previous generation, the values of confidence and achievement were taught, building on the newer values of self-actualization, creativity, and acceptance.
Looking at the values through each generation, one can notice that this directly relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Each generation of the workforce has worked to build and develop through the values from Physiological, Safety, Belonging, Esteem to Self-Actualization.
There are some large differences between the new newest group of young professionals and previous generations of workers. We are not just technology users, but technology assimilators – where technology is absorbed into our lives. We live virtually through social circles, through interactions, through communication and through networks. We also differ from previous generations with debt issues, varying career and life expectations, differing passions and much more. There are fundamental alignment issues, between: ambition, career, learning, independence, freedom, self-actualization, humility, drive, morality, achievement, confidence, and respect. In order to deal with this misalignment and mitigate conflict, one must understand the driving motives of the issues: inspiration, advancement, work-life balance, employee value, stability, passion, and fulfillment. Each of these issues and motivations needs to be discussed and needs to be transformed to ensure productive employees, a rewarding career, and a happy life.
There are numerous key issues creating the generational gaps needing to be addressed.
New, young professionals have issues with employment and starting that first job. There are issues with engagement and aligning passion with career. There are issues with career and life expectations to produce a happy and fulfilling life. There are expectations on terms of employment and the expectation of changing positions and companies. There is the expectation that one’s career must be determined by age 18. There are issues, which have become the catch phrases FOMO (fear of missing out) or YOLO (you only live once), where they must be active and participate in everything and live every aspect of life in order to live a happy, meaningful life. There is the constant comparison with others, as technology has made communication of achievements so easily accessible, raising the bar of expected achievement. There is the misalignment between being special and unique with humility and entitlement. All of this, in one way or another, is related to the key issues of achievement, creating meaning, and being happy.
Like any major issue, there is no silver bullet to fix all issues, but looking at each piece of the puzzle will help one see the big picture (pardon the major use of clichés). The major problems at heart are not completely unique among any particular generation, though the environment and economy may be. With each problem, one can advance to achieve more, establish meaning, and live happily. In order to do this, one must first look within one’s self to determine a foundation and viewpoint, upon which change can be created – moving business and personal goals forward.
Nick Dyshaw is a Marketing Specialist at Honeywell Sensing and Controls, where he works on global product management for heavy duty thermal and pressure sensors.
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