You are on page 1of 10

Getting to know Y

2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers
Generation Y Survey

Gen Y are clearly a fast Generation Y are the individuals born between 1979 and 1990. In the labour
market, these are employees who just turned thirty or are in their 20s, a
growing segment of majority of whom have just joined the workforce.
Kenya’s workforce In Kenya, Gen Y is the group who were born around the time of the coup.
The defining events over the past decade for this Generation have been
multi-party elections, the NARC government, post election violence, the
coalition government and the referendum.

Gen Y are clearly a fast growing segment of Kenya’s workforce. 66% of

the respondents of the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2009 National Human
Resource survey reported that Gen Y employees already make up between
25% and 75% of the workforce. Gen Y are not just the next generation
of employees, but the next generation of consumers who will ultimately
determine whether future businesses will succeed or fail.

Gen Y are not just

the next generation
of employees, but
the next generation
of consumers
who will ultimately
determine whether
future businesses will
succeed or fail
Understanding the needs of Gen Y

I would characterise Generation Generation Y is absorbed in a

Y workers as nice, optimistic and world made possible through
happy. We believe that life is technology. We are well aware
good and we can succeed. We of how social changes affect us
have huge, sometime outlandish and we use the Internet to stay up
expectations of life, the world and to date. While Generation X and
the workplace. In many ways, earlier generations participated in
we are returning to traditional rallies, protest, and group meetings,
values but we also find it easier to Generation Y prefers to launch
communicate with our friends online a movement in cyberspace and
than in person. Technology is the encourage the masses to join in via
key to our hearts and minds. a Facebook group page.

Generation Y’s expressive social Generation Y searches for

networking may have a downside, information online, rather than
however; the time that we spend reading manual books or articles.
Charles Simba is a manager in
Technology in the Advisory Department at online, interacting with friends in We regularly read more blogs than
PricewaterhouseCoopers. cyberspace and playing video any other generation and we receive
games may be at the expense our news from multiple online
of face-to-face interactions. For sources.
many of us, it is socially acceptable
to conduct lively text message Generation Y wants to be rewarded
conversations or post status updates for carrying out the most mundane
online whilst ignoring present of tasks. We are children of the
company. ‘trophy age’, where there were no
real winners or losers in competitive
Although radio and television still sports. Instead, we all received
stand out as the most popular media prizes ‘for participating’. Ours is a
for this generation, Internet use mixed bag. Many of us are hard
is rapidly growing. It is assumed working and efficient, especially
that Generation Y is too engrossed because we have the technologies
in using the Internet and new and tools to get more done in
Generation Y searches forms of technology for them to less time. The others tend to be
for information online, notice traditional media. However, downright lazy and self-indulgent,
Generation Y has not abandoned wanting all of our needs to be
rather than reading TV for new media and interestingly, fulfilled now!
we enjoy many of the same
manual books or programmes and websites as our For this generation, work is not a
articles older peers. place where we go—it is ‘something
Showing up on time and we do’. Showing up on time and
putting effort in without results,
advanced skills in technology, social
networking and the ability to focus
putting effort in without therefore, does not count as ‘work’. on multiple tasks at the same time,
Our generation is hesitant to adjust the sky is the only limit.
results, therefore, does their lives in order to fit into the
not count as ‘work’ workplace. We would prefer to Companies that will reap the most
adjust the workplace such that it value from this generation must be
suits our lifestyles. We are therefore ready to make some adjustments
keen to leverage technologies like and adapt to the changing
mobile computing and the Internet to demographics of today’s workforce.
make our working schedules more These companies will demonstrate
flexible. successfully that Generation Y adds
real value to their organisations,
According to taking their opinions seriously and
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2010 HR creating clear progression paths.
Survey, the top three most sought-
after benefits amongst Generation Employers are struggling to
Y workers include access to online accommodate flexible working
social networks, flexible dress code hours, according to PwC’s HR
and flexible working hours. This Survey, but they are learning
generation also values professional to manage Generation Y’s
networks and gym memberships. expectations so that our hard work
is rewarded appropriately without
Generation Y has been built for the alienating older generations.
fast lane. With fantastic team work,

Employers are struggling to accommodate flexible

working hours, according to PwC’s HR Survey,
but they are learning to manage Generation Y’s
Generation Y
Recognition, Engagement and Personal

Recognition, engagement and they require constant constructive

personal development are some of feedback about their contributions
the outstanding characteristics of and suggestions. However, they can
Generation Y. Almost by definition, also have outsized expectations
‘the Millennials’ are a generation which need to be managed carefully.
of question askers, according to
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2010 HR Research conducted by the
Survey. Chartered Institute of Personnel
Development in the UK shows that
They are driven by praise, 50% of Generation Y workers who
entertainment and instant join an organization leave within
gratification. Not only do they three years. PwC’s HR Survey found
desire to be fully engaged in their that 66% of employers report that
workplace but they also want to Generation Y makes up between
contribute to major decisions. The 25% and 75% of their workforces;
traditional career path based on time high turnover must not be ignored.
Nicholas Odhiambo, is a consultant
in People & Change in the Advisory served and rungs on the ladder is
Department at PricewaterhouseCoopers. not a concept that they relish. Many Millennials have watched
their parents work for the same
Employers face a number of organisations for their entire
significant challenges with regard to professional lives only to be laid
attracting and retaining Generation off. Generation Y workers want to
Y workers. At the same time, the own their own careers; traditional
innovation and creativity embodied development plans are not enough.
by Generation Y is having a
profound impact on the business Generation Y workers look for work
landscape. that interests them, adds to their
skills base, accords them validation
Born between 1978 and 1990, for their contributions and extends
Recognition, Generation Y workers possess to them plenty of opportunities for
engagement and high self esteem and a tremendous growth.
need for mobility and flexibility. The
personal development availability of information is essential Generation Y workers often want
are some of to keeping them engaged and help in areas like financial success
performing effectively. and stability, relationships, health
the outstanding and fitness and career development.
They need to know that their work Mentoring, feedback, tutoring
characteristics of is meaningful and contributes to and relationships with leadership
Generation Y major corporate decisions, and enhance their experience.
For Generation Y, Challenging assignments and
effective leadership, flexibility,
Gallup in 2009 indicates that an
engaged employee is one that is
accountability gives personal freedom, higher rewards praised, feels encouraged and who
and policies supporting work-life enjoys plenty of opportunities for
them a sense of balance are the keys to Generation development.
ownership Y’s staying power.
For Generation Y, accountability
Many employers struggle to hire gives them a sense of ownership.
and retain Generation Y workers. Extra time spent in validating the
Employers must demonstrate ideas they bring, allowing them to
creativity, resourcefulness and participate in brainstorming and
patience to generate results and transparency, continuous feedback
keep this generation engaged. and positive reinforcement signify
An employee attitude survey by recognition to this group.

Employers must demonstrate creativity,

resourcefulness and patience to generate results
and keep this generation engaged
Generation Y places new
demands on employees

Janet Ouko is a bright upcoming generation (probably older Boomers

engineer with the leading who were born before 1955). Only
pharmaceutical agency. She 23 of them are led by members of
consistently performs at par or Generation X (those born between
superior to her peers. She is bright 1965 and 1971). It is worth noting
and confident just like most of her that by 2014, nearly half the
peers at the company. employees in the world will those
born after 1980. For purposes of this
While working on a project, she article, Generation Y also known as
came up with what she considered Millennials can be defined at those
as brilliant ideas to resolve issues born between after 1977). However,
on the project. She discussed them research shows that there are
with the project manager who puts various and conflicting age-based
the brakes on implementing them definitions.
as they were fairly radical. She
constantly shared her frustrations The Baby Boomers created a
Wairimu R. Njage is a manager in People
and Change, in the Advisory Department
through Twitter and Facebook with corporate, political and economic
at PricewaterhouseCoopers. her colleagues in the office. On a landscape dominated by hierarchical
separate occasion, Janet bumped pyramidal structures underpinned by
into the Managing Director of the command and control. Generation
company at a golf tournament and Y are coming into the workplace
in an “elevator” speech presented against a world context in which the
her ideas. She immediately world is flat, dominated by the free
tweeted her colleagues with the flow of information, extensive use
news and updated her blog. Which of social media, rapidly changing
the Chairman liked, which he environments and markets and
recommended that the manager complex issues.
implement. Welcome to the world of
Generation Y. Hungry and in a hurry As the short fictional anecdote
for success. Constantly in need of illustrates, Generation Y can be
feedback. considered as technology savvy
and highly ambitious. In speaking
Organisations around the world are with HR managers, Generation Y
grappling with the challenges arising is typically described as selfish to
from managing different generations being very generous particularly with
at work. The Baby Boomers (those regard to social causes. But is this
Generation Y can born between 1955 and 1964) are really the case? There is still room
now at the top of their game in the for in-depth academic research
be considered as work place. According to research, to bring out the clear dimensions
nearly 90% of the world’s top 200 of the generational issues in the
technology savvy and firms are currently led by Boomers workplace, particularly with regard to
highly ambitious or people from an even older Generation Y.
Despite the dearth of research, expectations of different
there are emerging themes that generations. However, Generation
define this generation. Research Y tends to be more vocal about their
has identified what we consider expectations.
as the top five characteristics of
Generation Y particularly those The challenges for organisations
who are young professionals. and HR Managers in designing
These are generalised but provide talent management programmes to
useful roadmap for organisations to take these issues into account will
manage this cohort of employees. focus on the following:

For Generation Y, work is a key part Work Management: Given their

of life and therefore issues around need for constant, immediate,
work-life balance although important constructive feedback managers
should be set against the context of are bound to be put under pressure
fulfilling and enjoyable work. They in managing Generation Y staff.
seek careers and job assignments Emphasis should be put on how
that are challenging, stretching and this generation can manage their
intellectually stimulating. own learning and work with peers to
provide a regular flow of information
Secondly, they tend to be high and feedback.
achievers and therefore it is
important for organisations to Management of Boundaries:
engage fully with their staff. They Generation Y tend to use technology
expect clear road maps for success Protocol in July 2010 will amplify at lot more than other generations.
with clear, consistent and constant this trend. With regard to internal They reach out to peers in their
feedback offered. They prefer self dynamics, colleagues are important organisations, build a virtual network
managing their work. In line with to Generation Y employees. The of associates around the globe. The
this they prefer managers to coach network of friends that they make at challenge is around managing the
and mentor them given that growth work is also important. flow of information, deciding what
and development is important to information should be maintained
them. In addition, in a research Fourth, they see their careers in the public domain and what can
study conducted by PwC, 80% defined by an infinite number of be brought into the work domain.
of Generation Y participants said possibilities and developing in Creating norms and frameworks is
that they would leave an employer different directions. They believe important.
whose corporate sustainability that they are in charge of building
practices no longer met their own. their own careers through working in The Design of Work: Developing
positions that would develop them. intellectual, social and emotional
Thirdly, PwC research shows In line with this, they are keen to capital is important for this
that they will increasingly view learn self management and personal generation. Organisations will need
the organisation and the world productivity skills as well as gain to focus on designing work that
without boundaries. Their focus industry/functional knowledge as is meaningful, delivers sufficient
will be on interest and opportunity, well as technical skills. They do not autonomy for the individual to
not necessarily on monetary expect jobs for life and also do not develop themselves, allows for rapid
rewards. They will happily begin intend to work in an organisation for learning, is meaningful , challenging
careers in Kenya or their home life. One can expect them to leave if and has within it opportunities for
countries but will follow well paid not promoted. regular feedback.
opportunities internationally while
spending spells in their home Fifth, gender equality is now Flexibility: Providing flexibility
country. They are likely to shift expected and taken for granted. In around working hours, packages
across functional areas, roles, addition, Generation Y will tend to and benefits. Most married
multiple cultures and economies settle down later than their parent’s Generation Y couples will be in the
without the need to return to their generation. work place as for them, family is not
home counties until later in their a women’s issue but a issues for
careers, if at all. The launch of East In looking at these characteristics, men and women.
African Community Common Market they may not differ from the

Generation Y are coming into the workplace against a world context in which
the world is flat, dominated by the free flow of information

This publication has been prepared as general information on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information
contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice.

© 2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers. All rights reserved. PriceewaterhouseCoopers refers to the network of member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited each
of which is a separate and independent legal entity.