Jan 1, 2009

Everybody is talking about it

According to the media, the impending recession is here, and it’s likely to get much worse, leaving many employers wondering how Generation Y will handle this phenomenon, as they haven’t seen “hard times” like this before. However, this generation has been coping with a host of dilemmas from a very young age: innumerable school subjects (introduced by the National Curriculum), university courses, career choices, and a cliff-face climb onto the property ladder. Generation Y has suffered from overwhelm prior to this economic period, struggling with the “where-am-I-going?- -what-am-I-supposed-to-do?” syndrome, which has been referred to as their Quarter Life Crisis[1], the predecessor to the better known Mid Life Crisis - although without the Volvo estate to be traded in for the sports car.

In this environment, Generation Y employees will be a true asset for all managers: They have a sense of flexibility, while not “emotionally attached” to any employer, they are very committed employees. They have moved away from the ‘civil service’ attitude and their expectation for their work is for a more meritocratic approach that values talent. Furthermore they take redundancy in their stride, unafraid of change, for some they are facing redundancy for the third time before turning 30.

These younger workers are also said, in what is a back-handed compliment, to seek control of their own career development, which is an empowering state of mind in this present climate. They will also stay with an employer that values their hard work: The notion that they are serially disloyal and constantly at the ready to jump ship for their own career progression is flawed. This is supported by recent research which argues that 50% of Generation Y intends to stay with their employer for the next five years (although some Baby Boomers would still gall at this ‘lack’ of commitment)[2].

The younger workforce may not have lived through world wars or rationing, but they are ready for these uncertain times; they have been prepared by their own challenges and they will grasp with both hands the opportunities arising from the recession.

[1] Originally the term Quarter Life Crisis was coined by two Americans, Alexandra Robbins & Abby Wilner, who interviewed thousands of students for their book(“Quarter Life Crisis – How to get your head round life in your twenties”). They defined Quarter Life Crisis as a response to overwhelming instability, constant change, too many choices and a panicked sense of helplessness
[2] http://www.management-issues.com/2008/9/10/research/why-it-doesnt-pay-to-pigeonhole-gen-y.asp

1 comment:

  1. Great post, I've been meaning to reply to this for ages. The Quarter Life Crisis is an interesting concept that I've seen happen myself but never had as good a name for it till now!