What to do with our Yers ?

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Generation Y is now an actual concern for many organizations. Some see them as a danger, other as an opportunity but everybody wonder about how to tame this new population that make organizations tremble with fear. And one question is on all lips : how will businesses  adapt.

The issue came back to my mind when I came across this deck by Julien Pouget who had the kidness to gather some verbatims and “instant thoughts” at an event where he spoke. As Julien himself says, that’s only an “instant picture” and nothing more. But I often find these kinds of verbatim useful because they show us how people perceive things and this perception, should it be legitimate or not, argued or not, objective or subjective, actually exists so has to be taken into account.

Those who can understand a few words in french may be interested in the deck, that’s why I share it all the same.

According to my own perception of this generation, here are my takes :

• on a cognitive perspective, they are different from previous generations. They are made to work in the world we live in and intead of managing the Y case I think that businesses that will learn from them will make impressive improvements. Anyway, one day they’ll be the majority so better start now, all the more since they have the right DNA to be successful in an information world. That does not mean they should either deserve a red carpet and that they have nothing to learn from older people.

• an ambiguous relationship with work. If I rely on the informations gathered by Julien, they don’t want to work themselves to death and, most of all, they don’t understand the enterprise world. It confirms what some other surveys already demonstrated [fr] : the shift from a world of entertainement to a world of work is very hard for them, they don’t master the codes and the challenges and, most of all, they don’t care about that.

They want to work as less as possible, are more interested in holidays than in the content of their job and want everything to come to them without making any effort. They want to find a job and that’s why they are curious about integration into the workplace, but they don’t want their job to impact their private life.

I was looking at this deck with a 40yo manager, a kind of manager 2.0, networker, facilitator, who is very comfortable when it comes to working with Yers. He told me “their DNA is useless if they don’t quickly refocus and the beginning of their career may be a violent shock. If they don’t care, the future will remember them as Generation S…for Slumped”. Direct but lucid.

• Revolutionary ? Not at all. Rather apathetic. But, as I was recently told, “let’s see the impact of the crisis on a generation that have always know growth and had high expectations. You know, when they’ll find themselves as everybody, with a rent to pay and engagements to assume, when the real world will catch up with them, they’ll become pragmatic by need, as it happened to all the previous generations”.

• Should we generalize ? In my opinion, not at all. I recently gave a class at HEC (French best business school) and I can tell you the students were tonic, interested, smart and aware of the challenges they’ll have to face in the workplace. A also know Yers from overseas where I have relatives, and I don’t feel they fit this description either. Moreover, how could they demand a 35h workweek, more and more holidays, concepts that does not exist in their world. More, all the studies I read that showed their unsuitability for the workplace were european (and even worse…from french speaking countries) and it’s obvious that Yers are not the same everywhere. I could even tell you about a texbook case : the comparison bewteen a teen that spent his first 10 years in the US and then moved to Europe and his cousin who stayed overseas. Let me tell you they  are much less alike than they were a few years ago.

In my opinion, Generation Y is not uniform, neither is the attitude we should have toward it. Businesses have to learn how to take the most from their specificities while refocusing them when needed. Internships will have to become a true discovery, adaptation, acclimatizatin period. A two ways mentorship between two generations that have a lot to learn the one from the other will be essential. Many people say businesses have lot to lose if they don’t adapt to Yers…let me add that Yers have even more to lose if they don’t adapt to the constraints of the workplace. Saying that…the debate become more balanced.

Anyway, we should be aware of not adoption extreme solutions : denying what they are or adopting a submissive attitude toward the Y monster.

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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