Generation Y entered the work force en masse in the first decade of the 21st century. Generation Y is also known as the digital generation, having grown up with access to the World Wide Web beginning in their early elementary school years. They were also early adopters of technology such as cell phones, iPods, and netbooks. This has greatly affected their approach to finding, keeping, and switching jobs.
Members of Generation Y were typically not satisfied with how they perceived the workplace that was waiting for them. Many members of this generation choose to delay entering the workplace and instead furthered their education with masters and/or doctorate degrees. Many pursued advanced degrees in fields that piqued their interests and not just in the career field they found themselves in. And once Generation Y was ready to enter the workplace, they were pickier about the jobs they choose. Overwhelmingly, they wanted jobs that allowed collaboration with peers. Because they grew up questioning all sorts of authority, many sought out jobs that would allow them to be more in control of their destiny. Creativity and independence were important qualities in potential jobs.
Of course, once Generation Y found themselves in the workplace, they had to decide whether or not to stay there. By 2005, they were really establishing themselves in the workplace and the changes they brought are still being felt. Unsettled with the typical command-do hierarchy, many branched out into dot.com start-ups that allowed them more flexibility with creating a work-life balance. The Generation Y workers insisted that their employers, if they were not self-employed, must accommodate their desires to “have a life” and not be all-consumed with their careers.
Change is highly valued by members of Generation Y. In the workplace, they expect to be heard and for their ideas and contributions to be valued. This generation is not afraid to speak up if they feel they are being underutilized. The quest for meaningful work is part of who they are and their career is not about a money-grab, but about feeling valuable and important. This is probably a result of how they were raised, being told regularly by their parents and teachers that they were special and significant.
And if they were not happy with their level of responsibility or their ability to balance their work and personal lives, they left for greener pastures. No longer is company loyalty a value for this generation. They saw the scandals of Arthur Anderson and Enron and deliberately choose something more transient for themselves. The idea that one person could stay with the same company for their entire career seems like a solution of financial ruin at the end of that career.
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Members of Generation Y work hard to stay in the workplace. But they do so on their own terms. Taking time off to further their education or pursue a hobby is not uncommon for Generation Y. They lean heavily on their own abilities and do not wait for their bosses or others to make room for them at the top, and instead are increasing their mobility to make their own space at the top.