‘Y’ All the Change?

Part 1 of a 2 Part Blog

By: Claire Frisella

As a soon-to-be senior at Butler University, I have been thinking hard the past year about where I want to begin my career after graduation. I have heard non-stop from parents, professors, and advisors how tough it is to find a job after graduation. As a result, I feel like everywhere I turn someone is giving me tips on how to prep for the working life. I even took a semester long class on professionalism where the course revolved around different topics to prepare us for life after college. Even with all of this “preparation”, will my generation (Generation Y) really assimilate into the workplace? It seems that we are motivated different ways when it comes to jobs. With so many of us entering into the workforce, it could be that change is on the horizon for organizations.

Organizations & Gen Y

According to an article from the Ivey Business Journal in 2011, the current generation entering into the workplace is the largest since the Baby Boomers entrance. All of this change draws attention to the new-comers in organizations. So what are organizations doing for the young Gen Yers? It is clear that the mindset of the youngest generation in the workplace differs greatly from the previous ones. Leaders need to adapt to this generation that is motivated by team work, flexibility, and feedback. An article in USA Today explains that organizations that are slow to adapt for Generation Y soon find that the newcomers “move out rather than up” in organizations.

Flexibility

Throughout the past three years in college I created my own schedule and delegated my own time in order to balance school, work, and whatever else I had on my plate. Not having that ability makes it difficult to think about diving into a full time nine to five job right after graduation, especially when we have been told that we’re probably going to change jobs at an alarming pace over the course of our lives. Many organizations are catching on to this mentality with future Gen Y employees. To accommodate the demand for flexibility some organizations allow young employees to work from home or to create their own schedules, which appeals to my generation.

Work-Life Balance

A flexible schedule appeals to Generation Y because we want a work-life balance.  For us, work isn’t everything.  Growing up during a time where friends and family have lost jobs, we understand that even without work, life goes on.  We aren’t the generation that is going to take on a job that will compromise our happiness. We are looking for that happy medium between a career and a personal life and if an organization isn’t going to offer that for us, chances are we won’t stick around.

Gen Y Women & Work-Life Balance

As a Gen Y woman, a work-life balance is my goal. Most Generation Y women share this mentality, which sets us apart from the women of past generations. The number of women graduates today outnumbers men graduates, making women a large part of the Gen Y workforce. According to an article from Excelle, 63% of Generation Y women value achieving their personal goals over professional goals. It is simple: if Generation Y women aren’t getting that balance, there isn’t much hope they will stay around unless organizations can offer them stimulating work that allows time for a life outside of the office.

Feedback

“How did she do, class?” This question served as the end-of-class ritual for many communications classes. My professor encouraged students to critique and give feedback after every presentation. Sharing opinions and feedback is something I value and learn from. Generation Y thrives off of encouragement.  In an article from The Ivey Business Journal, Generation Y individuals also respond well to feedback on performance and reinforcement from leaders and are motivated when they receive responses from those above them.  Leaders need to recognize this because we are constantly seeking feedback and criticism on our performance.

Team Work

As a college student, team projects, presentations, and papers are the backbone of many of my classes. Dividing work and using my strengths combined with team members’ strengths has become routine for every team project I have taken on.  Generation Y employees crave a work environment that offers the ability to work in a team, unlike some of the generation that have come before us. A boring work environment is our worst nightmare and teamwork stimulates us to work harder and more efficiently.

What’s Next?

I’m not sure if my preparation over the past three years for the work world will come in handy once I’m there. What I do know is that being a part of Gen Y sets me apart from other generations with whom I’ll be working. It may be that I will have to tweak my Gen Y mentality in order to blend, but hopefully the companies where I find myself can do the same.