Digital Natives: new generations in the world of work

Apr 19, 2017

There are two “new” generations on the labor market: Who are the people behind Generation Y and Z, what do they stand for and are they changing the working world? Some companies will have to change their behavior and structure, because these generations do have different demands towards their working places compared to those before.

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Generation Y, Millennials & Gen Y

Those who are born between 1980 and 2000 are categorized as “Generation Y” also known as Gen Y or Millennials. They have been growing up with globalization and internet boom. It is often said that Millennials put special demands on the world of work. Private life and working time is merging, mainly due to being online 24/7. Reaching a leadership position is less important, the main focus is on having a job which is meaningful and offers them the possibility to further develop themselves.

This generation is well aware of the fact that they will probably be working up to the age of 70. This is why they expect to spend almost their complete lives at their working place. Whether their pensions will be good enough to live off is not sure yet. This is why it seems not reasonable to wait until being 70 to discover the world or to risk something extraordinary. Up to now dreams have been postponed to “life after retirement”; the new generations are trying to make their dreams come true here and now – because no one knows when “after retirement” actually will be. Much is written about the theory that Millennials do not care that much about money, but would rather prefer a job which is satisfying.

“On the whole, they'd rather work at an interesting job for less money that allows them plenty of time out of the office rather than putting in 12-hour days for a six-figure salary.”

Generation Y itself has a different view. Because it is really true that this generation does not want to buy houses or cars – or is it more likely the case that they cannot afford it as explained in the article at upworthy.com? Do they really not want to have long-term working contracts – or have conditions changed and only temporary employments are offered? There are many different articles with almost as many opinions. But what is really true? Are politicians “not caring” about the problems of these younger generations since they are a minority? Is the ratio between salaries and living costs not the same anymore compared with generations before? A quote from David Stewart-Patterson, vice-president of the Conference Board of Canada:

"Age rather than gender is becoming the new divide in our society." (Source)

But this is not the only aspect which should be mentioned. Most of those who are called Generation Y are willing to invest into their future; they study during weekends in addition to their full-time jobs. Their CVs are filled with numerous internships, distance learning courses or studies abroad because work also means development for this generation.

Generation Z is taking over

Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010, also called Generation YouTube, belongs to the “Digital Natives” like Generation Y. For Gen Z the flood of digital information and an online-connectivity-24/7 is completely normal.

The first members of Generation Z are already entering the world of work. Even though both generations are seen as Digital Natives, Generation Z puts different demands on their jobs. Unlike their predecessors they demand a strict separation between working and private life. This is not due to laziness but caused by the fact that working is possible almost everywhere and at every time. No one is striving to live only for the job. This is why fixed working hours, permanent contracts and clearly defined structures are of great importance for this generation, also because Gen Z no longer believes in a fair fusion of job and private life.

Employers have to adapt

These changes also lead to challenges for employers. Most of them will have to adapt to this new situation sooner or later to make sure that they can reach their target group of young talents. Offers to “attract” these generations such as healthy food at the office, subsidized sporting activities or flexible working hours are already provided by many companies. Also models to combine working and leisure time in a better way or include training and educational programs are gaining ground.

Still the best option to identify the wishes of the employees remains a personal conversation and a good basis of trust within the team. So don’t be afraid to ask! An interesting overview about the categorized generations can be found in the article “The Generation Guide – Millennials, Gen X, Y, Z and Baby Boomers” by FourHooks. 

 

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Topics: Soft Skills

Sophie Keil

Written by Sophie Keil

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