Jun 11, 2008

Growing up

Nurture. The Baby Boomers were brought up by the ‘Builders’ or ‘Veterans’ (generally those born 1925 – 1945). Many having been through World War I (‘WWI’) as children and all will have experienced in some way World War II (WWII). They were naturally conservative with food and possessions, taught to reuse and conserve what they had. ‘Builders’ were guided by the military discipline instilled through the course of the military action; were affected directly by the economic events of the Wall Street Crash in October 1929 and the years to follow, so named the ‘Great Depression’. (Rightly or wrongly) they communicated these learned values to their children – the ‘Baby Boomers’. Born in ‘two chunks’ (in the UK) between the generally accepted range of 1946 – 1964, the Boomers formed their own identity too. The preceding 20 years had made starting families challenging (not least because of the physical separation of families as they went on duty with their various military ‘outfits’), but now with men returning to handle the economy women were able return to raising a family. Boomers took on these learned values and pursued careers – taught by their Builder parents that a job provided income security – Boomers forged for themselves 20 or 30 year careers with one firm. Generation X witnessed the collapse of this trust as long term ‘expectations’ of job security between employer and (Baby Boomer) employees was shattered in the 1987 stock-market crash. Within 2 days the FTSE 100 had lost 22% of its value and panic struck (even thought the FTSE 100 actually finished two percentage points higher overall that year[1]! Look at this FTSE 100 (1985-2005) chart[2] from Yahoo! Finance and see how the index had been rising for the previous seven months and then ‘corrected’).
This was happening as this X-er Generation was entering the workplace! Loyalty, as you might expect, towards (multi) national firms went down the scale considerably. Gen X-ers were much more independently minded, ensuring their survival they learned ‘transferrable skills’. And it wasn’t just business shaping the minds of Generation X: the birth of the single-parent family became acceptable and this generation thus carries the ‘latch-key’ tag as parents in single-parent families were forced to work to provide for their family. Generation X was cultured to be independent and in work will ‘ring-fence’ their ‘bit’ and look after it. This is also the generation that started to interact with the Internet and online communication – at least as ‘early adopters’.So what about Generation Y? “Self absorbed” “Brash” “
Divas[3]” “Ambitious[4]” “Demanding” “Confident” – Yes!

[1] The Motley Fool UK: Market Comment 19/10/2001, ‘Learn the Lessons from Black Monday’ (19 Oct 2001)
[2] http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=%5EFTSE&t=my&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=, ‘FTSE100 basic chart’ (15 May 2008).
[3] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/career_and_jobs/recruiter_forum/article1813031.ece, “How to Connect with Generation Y” TimesOnline (20 May 2007)
[4] http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/786810/mt-freshminds-work-20-survey-generation, “Work 2.0 Survey - My generation” (29 Feb 2008)

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