We’re coming, whether you like it or not. Generation Y is entering the workforce at an alarming rate, with the workforce majority set to be in their 20’s by 2015. I’m one of these millennials who supposedly values social media freedom over salary (yeah right), is self-centred, and apparently has no regard for job security. But my most interesting experiences have been around learning to work side by side with the baby boomers generation. The question remains, what impact will this influx of Gen Y have on an aging workforce… or should I say, what lessons can we learn?
Recently I was chatting to a friend from University, and he asked me something that I’ve often found myself thinking about since. He asked “what have you noticed about our group of mates, since we left university?” Although my answers of more disposable income, and less alcohol consumption may be true, interestingly, his observation was how much our language has cleaned up. With less swearing and colloquial language, he had offered one good example of how Gen Y has been impacted by entering the workforce, and influenced by the older generation.
This got me thinking about my experiences, and how it has impacted my behavior (for better or worse). It’s not just that we throw around less F-bombs, but more the impact it’s had on my everyday life. My boss has always said to me from the first day I started working (and still frequently reminds me) to “just pick up the bloody phone”. I don’t know why I have this urge to email someone rather than call them, but it’s probably a reflection of growing up in a generation that uses txt messaging as their primary means of communication, compared to a generation who learnt to communicate by phone.
Eye contact is important. This is one thing I’ve never really put much thought into, but it’s something I’ve learnt since entering the workforce, and something my generation is less practiced at. Making eye contact is a sign of showing and earning respect. Another senior colleague would say to me “eyes are the window to the soul”, and that idiom has been a valuable tool for me in the world of business relationships.
If you have a video conference arranged, you might as well turn up 15 minutes late, because you can guarantee the older people in the organisation will have trouble trying to work the software. No matter how many times they’ve done it in the past, the baby boomer generation still struggle with technology. Although this might be our only trump card over the oldies, what’s obvious is that Gen Y still has some valuable lessons to learn from the veterans of the business world. Whether you’ve got spikey hair or grey hair, we’re now experiencing a culture where Gen Y meets the baby boomers in a working environment. So, how do you manage your team based on their generational diversity?