Generation Y Profile

Introduction Australia is currently experiencing the biggest generational shift that has been seen for six decades. By 2008, more people will leave the Australian workforce than enter it. The majority of those new entrants are from the new generation: Generation Y. Currently, Gen Y comprises 20 per cent of the Australian working population but will represent up to 40 per cent in just five years (2012). This background report offers a concise look at Generation Y, who the individuals in this group are, their characteristics and some management techniques. It serves as a starting point for anyone who is interested in this topic or finds themselves in a multi-generational workplace and is ready to embrace the fact that change has finally arrived.

The Facts What can the Australian employer expect from their new employee, early tweens, who is just starting their first real job? A general assumption is that by the time Generation Y walks through the door on their first day of work they will have up to three degrees and their sights firmly fixed on their first promotion. If that promotion does not materialise in as little as six months, Gen Y is out the door on their way to their next job. Even if they like a job, they will probably only stay two years. Typically, they will then continue on to have 29 jobs and seven different careers in their lifetime. And there are more statistics to realise that a generational shift is here: • • • • • • • • • There are over 4 million Australians in generation Y 1 out of 3 is of an ethnic background other than Caucasian 1 out of 4 grew up in a single-parent household In 1976 the median age of an Australian was 28 compared to 37 today and to over 40 in a decade. The average age of full-time workers has also been rising and today it sits at 39. The biggest source of miscommunication in the workplace is not due to cultural gaps or gender diversity but generational gaps. The growth of Australia’s population is projected to slow down even further during the next 50 years, from 1% per year today to 0.2% per year by 2040. Of all the students beginning high school today, almost 80% will complete year 12. The majority of these will go on to post-secondary education. There are more careers on offer today than ever before and in Australia today there is an estimated skills shortage of over 20,000 skilled trade workers. Today the unemployment rate is below 5%. Keeping in mind that this includes people transitioning between jobs and seasonal workers, many economists believe this is basically full employment. In 1960 employees averaged 15 years per employer. Today, this figure has dropped to just 4 years. 30% of the total workforce is employed on a casual basis while for Generation Y it is over 40%. Almost a quarter of the total Australian population (24%) was born overseas. Australians work the longest hours of any OECD country with 20% of employees working more than 50 hours each week.

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They are the most educated. 48 % of Generation Y today do not believe home ownership will be achievable in their lifetime. However. This could be said for all generations and people of all ages. there is still some minor disagreement about the exact years Generation Y encompasses. Generation Y is the world’s first global generation.46 13 . Therefore.1994 1995+ Age 83 . which has grown up among global terror threats and corporate downsizing. Though this new phenomenon has been well researched over the last few years. entrepreneurial yet supported and protected generation in history. economic and technological environments will have similar characteristics. materially endowed. This highlights that Australia is not the same place it was 25 years ago and therefore teenagers today are not like the teenagers 25 years today.Who is Generation Y? Many may have heard of the new age term Generation Y. This generation has developed during one of the most expansive economies in the past 30 years. Generation Y experienced the “working mum trend” first hand. in similar social. demanding and self-interested with little job loyalty. How this fits into the remaining generations can be seen below.64 30 . it is logical that people born around the same time. Looking at generational maps such as the one below showcases the different surrounding environments and highlights how different the world is today. cultural. or alternatively of words such as “Echo boomers’.82 47 . For example. known as generation gaps. . Why are the Y’ers what they are? Generally described as impatient. It can also be said that there have been countless teenagers and twens in the last 100 years that have been rebellious and wanted to change the world. generation Y is defined as people born between 01/01/1978 to 31/12/1994. it is safe to say that it is our surrounding environment that shapes many of our character traits. To them life is foremost and above all about choices. Everyone’s story is unique and every individual has choices in how to respond to the surrounding environment and make independent decisions. “Millenials” or “Generation WHY”. is driven by duty.29 < 11 Is there really such a difference? It has to be acknowledged that pigeonholing an entire group of people into a category will only serve to give a general overview of a person’s anticipated needs and desires. all describing the same set of people. For the purpose of QTIC-Y.106 65 . it raises the question of why values are so different today. independence and stability. so it is no wonder this generation places more emphasis on quality of life rather than standard of living and puts family and friends first. Generation Y. Description Seniors Builders Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y Generation Z Birth 1901-1924 1925-1942 1943-1960 1961-1977 1978. entertained. This in turn results in different perceptions of the world and the way it works.

2006 The social and environmental contexts highlighted above have shaped a generation different to any other before.Baby Boomers Prime Ministers William McMahon Gough Whitlam Malcolm Fraser TV 1956 Audio Cassette 1962 Colour TV 1975 Elvis Beatles Rolling Stones Easy Rider The Graduate Jaws Flare jeans Mini skirts Barbie. Frisbee Decimal currency 1966 Neil Armstrong 1969 Vietnam War 1965 . staff activities and non-financial rewards Internationally flexible (overseas recruitment) Community/Social driven: be respected.1973 Cyclone Tracy 1974 advance Australia Fair 1974 John F Kennedy Audrey Hepburn Muhammed Ali Generation X Bob Hawke Paul Keating VCR 1976 Walkman 1979 IBM PC 1981 INXS Nirvana Madonna ET Hey hey it's Saturday MTV Rollerblades Hyper colour Torn jeans Challenger explodes 1986 Haley's comet 1986 Stock market crash 1987 Berlin Wall down 1989 Newcastle earthquake 1989 Bono (U2) Princess Diana Andre Agassi Generation Y John Howard Iconic Technology Music TV & Movies Popular Culture Landmark Events Internet. interesting work and continuous opportunities for learning. work flexibility.present Richard Branson Tiger Woods Paris Hilton Aspirational Figures Adapted from Drake White Paper. salary ranks sixth after training. When accepting a job. go to a movie Communicating mainly through SMS and web . management style. included. listen to radio. e-mail mobile phones DVD 1995 Play Station Eminem Britney Spears Puff Daddy Lord of the Rings The Simpsons Reality TV Body piercing Baseball caps Metrosexual man Columbine shootings 1999 New Millennium 2000 September 11th 2000 Bali Bombings 2002 Iraq War 2003 . understood and accepted Decisions based on peers Increasingly short term focus (finish education) High disposable income (no financial commitments) Deferring adulthood Top 3 leisure activities being: go to a party. Generation of Choice Top three things they want in a job are positive relationships with colleagues. While everyone has their own perception of this group of people and individuals in it. there are some general observations of Generation Y that seem to be prominent in academic and popular literature.

Furthermore. In addition. Generation Y is here to stay and will be a major part of the Australian workforce. it has to be realised that not all change is evil. to decrease generational barriers and create a more cohesive workforce with more satisfied employers and employees. harder to manage and are proving near impossible to retain. bringing youthful idealism and energy. immediate recognition) at work Demand workplace flexibility Unresponsive to motivational tactics Motivated not only by money. new qualifications and a 21st century perspective to life. but also fun and social (Maslow’s hierarchy) Easily bored (less consumerism. times are changing. a fresh view to the industry. accepting of differences in terms of race. And they can be beneficial to any organisation. In fact. most beautiful and smartest generation that has entered this world. Common words and phrases associated with Gen Y are shown below. Need more be said? Impatient Lazy Want to be nurtured (constant feedback. which are shown below: Knows technology Ideally placed to be key drivers of product development and sales Entrepreneurial Ambitious Mature Practical Tolerant. more engagement and stimulation) Unwillingness No job or brand loyalty Focus on live rather than work (work to live) Ignorance of politics No ‘sucking up’ but questioning and challenging employers Appearance From a workforce perspective: they are difficult to attract. In fact. there are other positive associations for Generation Y. positive aspects of this generation need to be highlighted. gender and ethnicity Well travelled Purposeful Fast learners Very education-minded Concerned about environment Multi-taskers and fast thinkers Creative and independent thinkers Financially smart .Negative Conceptions of GenY: There can be no doubt that not everyone believes that (perhaps apart from their own kids) the youth today is the greatest. there are countless articles that tackle the problems of Generation Y and aim to explain why today’s youth is just not up to the standards of its predecessors. And there are plenty of positives about these individuals. Increased sensitivity to economic class Image conscious Materialistic Demand rationale behind any request Positive Conceptions of GenY: While some negative press about Generation Y has been predominant lately.

The following is an overview of key phrases commonly found in literature. we need to focus on positive attributes of this generation and implement a work environment that supports these individuals. that are associated with strategies that have proven successful with dealing with the new generation and may be a starting point to increase research in specific areas and decide which may be suitable for individual organisations and businesses. this topic is discussed in many publications. the right people versus the socalled best. nor the most intelligent. not mediocre for 60 hours. Job variety Feedback and rewards Increased responsibility Flexible work practices Career development Need GenY input to attract GenY market Work hard during working hours. change is here. because as Charles Darwin noted in his research “It is not the strongest species that survives. In fact. getting to know and understand members of Gen Y and then setting a strong leadership example for them to follow Seek out those Gen Y members who best fit your culture.Management Strategies for GenY: It is not the report’s aims to discuss and recommend suitable management strategies for Generation Y. That said. Because after all. but the one most adaptable to change”. as this will be beneficial to all in the long run. Therefore. as well as existing employees. Utilise their knowledge Provide a life-work balanced workplace If you want them to care you must care about them Best way to bridge the gap is by tapping into it. be it journal articles or books. . we have to embrace it and adapt. generational diversity is the key to a balanced workforce that reflects the varying ages of customers and society. Conclusion This paper aims to show the fact that a generational shift is present in Australia and that this change is here to stay.

9. Hardie Grant Books. “Generation Y: Attracting. “Bridging the Gap: An employers guide to managing and retaining the new generations of apprentices and trainees”. Drake International Sheahan P. Victoria Sutherland A. 41. “Bridging the Gap: An employees guide to understanding & communicating with your boss”. 9. Expo Magazine. NSW Kirkwood H. Vol. Prepared Foods. Iss. Engaging and Leading a New Generation at Work”. Iss. Thompson B. (2006). Prepared by Australian Institute of Management Huntley R.M.References Allan R. 39. (2007). Canada Vance A. “Talking bout Y Generation: Young upstarts represent more opportunity that threat”. pp. 39. Vol.L. USA Today De Kort L. Hooper D. (2005). and Teens”. 172. 34-37 McCrindle M. “kidfluence: The marketer’s guide to understanding and reaching Generation Y – Kids. Nation’s Restaurant News. (2005). p. (2007).33 Anon. Iss. (2005). 54 Allan R. Iss. pp. (2007). (2006). “Y do they behave X tra differently?” Executive Housekeeping Today. Iss. p. (2003). “Generation Y” they’ve arrived at work with a new attitude”. “Trade Shows 2010: attracting tomorrow’s attendees today”.. “Y Now”. 28. (2003). 12-18 . McGraw Hill. Vol.34 Armour S.L. McCrindle Report McCrindle M. “Generation Y: Thriving and surviving with Generation Y at work”. McCrindle Report McCrindle M. Tweens. Vol. Allen & Unwin. 47. Nation’s Restaurant News. (2006).. “The World according to Y”. (2004). “Generations at Work: An introduction to the generation mix in the Australian workplace”. 5. (2005). 17. (2006). p. “Expert: Managers must set example for Gen Y kidployees”. Vol. “Word up”. McCrindle Report McCrindle M.

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