Does Gen-Y Influence Today's Business?

I am a huge proponent of virtual businesses and what it means to be a virtual business. Consequently, I read everything I can find or get my hands on regarding trends in business, technology, employee perceptions and generational attitudes. Within business there is a substantial amount of sociology that also comes in to understanding trends. In my recent research efforts I came across a list of ten items that define the mindset of the Gen-Y population when it comes to business.  Many of the items were standard fair for corporate America, but other items on the list were utopian in nature.  I wrote those off as the collective group being plainly naive regarding the business world.

There are approximately 70 million Gen-Ys, also known as Millennials, in the U.S. today according to a 2007 BSG Alliance Concours Institute’s research study. This population is defined as those born between 1980 and 2000. This population compares to 79.6 million boomers in the U.S., according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Boomers are those born between 1946 to 1964.  It is safe to say that the boomers have set corporate policies for the past two decades and will continue to set corporate policy for the next two decades.

The Millennial mindset list, appearing at Employee Evolution, a Gen-Y on-line community and career center reads like this:

1.    We will hold only productive meetings

2.    We will shorten the work day

3.    We will bring back the administrative assistants

4.    We will redefine retirement

5.    We will find real mentors

6.    We will restore respect to the HR Department

7.    We will promote based on Emotional Intelligence

8.    We will continue to value what our parents have to offer

9.    We will enjoy higher starting salaries

10. We will reinvent the performance review

Approximately half of the list bears many similarities to goals and objectives in the corporate world today.  The items that made me chuckle were numbers 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9.

As firms move toward virtualizing business processes some of these items just won’t apply, ever.  For example, addressing item 2, the work day is no longer defined as 8 to 5.  With collaboration technologies widely deployed, plus connectivity via mobile devices, work is interwoven with the rest of our lives. I’m confident many employees duck out to catch a child’s sporting event, keeping in touch via their intelligent mobile device and logging back into email in the evening.

 I suspect item 2 showed up because the Millennials are the newbies in the cubical farm and have not yet been afforded the freedom of teleworking.  That freedom is granted when the employee has demonstrated an understanding of business priorities and meeting deadlines with appropriate deliverables. There is a certain amount of "getting to know you" that must take place before privileges are doled out. Just because you think you deserve them, doesn’t mean that you do.

 I’m going to stick with this Gen-Y line of discussion this next week. The way I see it, they are not saying anything the boomers haven’t already discussed and are implementing in their firm's virtual business initiatives.  Tell me what you think of the Gen-Y list.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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