What employers need to know about ‘Generation Y’

In what way is Generation Y different from other generations? And what are their todays’ and future workspace expectations? The Nexus of Forces”, where SocialMobileCloud and Big data are converging, is happening today. For the first time in modern history, four generations of workers are working side by side. These four generations have different expectations in terms of culture, work ethics, mindset and workplace expectations.

At the InspireX 2014 event, I’ll talk about the social (r)evolution in the workplace, sparked and introduced by millennials also known as Generation Y. What do they expect from their workplace? What do they expect from their employers?

A Social (r)evolution

The emergence of Generation Y is driving a dramatic change in education, technology, media, and most critically, at work. Gen Y makes up 25% of the workforce today, and their numbers are growing rapidly, due to the aging population in the Western world. These new entrants to the workforce expect more from their workplace than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts. These increased expectations make it important for businesses to understand the unique characteristics of this group.

Where do these increased expectations come from? One of the reasons often mentioned is that Gen Y’ers grew up in schools and environments that foster teamwork and collaboration. They want to work hard, but at the same time they want to have fun and live for the moment. They are combining work, learning, and playing; and that includes socializing and forming friendships with coworkers.

But what if employers do not understand how they work and do not understand what ‘being social’ means?

The clash of generations

Bear in mind that they are armed with the experience and behavior of social media tools like Facebook, WhatsApp, SnapChat and many others. Entering the workplace with this social and cultural background gives new challenges to decision makers, but also to IT environments. First of all, you see a “clash of generations”. For the first time in modern history, four generations of workers are working side by side:

  • The Silents (1925–1945),
  • Baby Boomers (1946–1964),
  • Gen X’ers (1965–1976)
  • and Gen Y’ers (1977–1994).

Each of these generations brings a different set of cultural and generational peculiarities with them to the workplace. Many organizations are not equipped to deal with this clash of generations, and most managers are struggling with how to work constructively with individuals from each of these generation. If we take a look at one of the peculiari

ties of Gen Y, next to their outlook at work and life in general, it is obvious they are faster in adopting new social and mobile technologies.


That’s why we call them ‘digital natives’. They grew up in a world in which they were surrounded by technology. Embracing technology is natural to them. It is also a way to deal with the complexity of the world around them. Other generations didn’t grow up with these emerging technologies, and are slower to adopt them. They are slower to adopt out of fear for the unknown, and fear of change in general.

Seeking technology workarounds, and a future workplace

Gen Y does not accept technologies that slow them down. If it slows them down, they will seek alternatives. Alternatives are on-premise if needed, but in the cloud when possible. This generation will find ways to work around legacy systems or get rid of them where possible. The day they become decision makers, they’ll expect more agile technologies that make it simple to be more productive. They demand social networking platforms like Yammer, learning channels like YouTube, or collaboration platforms like Office 365.

Each of these tools has a social aspect. And that’s were the dots become connected. In a recent Microsoft announcement about Office Graph and Oslo, you get a first glimpse of where thing are going. And believe me, those innovations are things created by the Generation Y, and adored by Generation Y.


Do you want to know more about how to connect “your” dots? Do you want to understand where things are going? These questions, and more, will be answered at InspireX. Check out the agenda, and subscribe now to this free event!

Written by
Alexander Vanwynsberghe
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Alexander Vanwynsberghe

Belgium-based entrepreneur. Into technology, innovation and a bit of cycling and running too. Evangelist for everything related to smart-tech.