Generation Y – Does leisure take priority?
Everyone’s talking about “Generation Y”. Narcissistic, superficial and focused on leisure – that’s how the media tends to portray people born after 1980. But what’s all the prejudice about? Are the young people’s values really so very different from those of the previous generations? We at Klöber have conducted a survey within the company, and we’re hoping to get to the bottom of this. We’ve got some interesting background information and the exciting results of our survey for you here!
To an English speaker, the letter Y sounds just like the word Why. This explains the origin of the name Generation Y, which is frequently characterised by its critical questioning of everything. Especially where the workplace is concerned, members of Generation Y – GYers for short – don’t want to be premature in declaring their contentment. It should be possible to have a job that’s fun, fairly paid and allows maximum scope for family and friends. But where do these supposedly high expectations come from? What is it about the concerns of GYers that makes them seem so unreasonable?
Generation Y – a brief history
To understand all the commotion surrounding Generation Y, it’s a good idea to take a little trip into the past and have a look at the two generations before the GYers, their parents and grandparents. I found a simplified but highly enlightening appraisal concerning this subject on the internet, which I’d like to summarise here.
The parents of the current GYers were (mostly) born in the 1950s and are therefore known as Baby Boomers. The parents of these Baby Boomers in turn experienced the Second World War and therefore hard times in an economic sense. As a result the most important value for this wartime generation was financial security. Because they wanted their own children – the Baby Boomers – to have a better life, they drummed it into them that hard work would ensure their survival. And they were right: in the 70s, 80s and 90s the hard work put in by the Baby Boomers resulted in economic prosperity. In other words not only were they able to stay afloat, they did really well for themselves. Since they achieved more than they could ever have dared to dream, they were happy. The Baby Boomers ultimately passed this experience down to their own children, the GYers. And thus the GYers grew up with the self-conception that they could be whatever they wanted, and that all the opportunities in the world were open to them. They have always believed themselves to be very special, which is why they have one predominant characteristic: they are very demanding. GYers are not content with the first option to present itself. They want to achieve the best for themselves, in all areas of life.
Generation Y – norms and values
GYers have not lived through a war like their grandparents, or a post-war era like their parents. They have (generally) grown up without financial difficulties and worries, have been able to enjoy a high standard of education and as a result they have their very own values. Money plays a secondary role for GYers. Time for family and friends on the other hand is important to them.
Generation Y – what they require of an employer
The GYers have their very own ideas of what’s important to them in their professional lives too. In keeping with their norms and values they aspire to a reasonable work-life balance as well as the right conditions for them to feel really comfortable in the workplace. The office furniture plays a key role here, because many GYers judge a company on the appreciation shown towards its employees. Technology, IT, ergonomics and design are all aspects of this – four variables that need to be kept up to date – and which aim not only to attract young and qualified employees, but to keep hold of them over the long term. That’s why modern companies who know about the concept of Offices of the Future are favoured by Generation Y.
As well as workplace design, GYers also look for various different soft skills in a company. So we at Klöber followed the example of a survey of around 500 university graduates conducted in 2012 by the auditing company “Ernst & Young” and asked our employees, who belong to Generation Y according to the definition, to answer a few questions. These are the results.
Generation Y – results from the in-house survey at Klöber
In the first of a total of five questions we wanted to know what values and goals are particularly important to our Generation Y employees.Participants could choose from 14 different answers, multiple selections were permitted:
|· Enough leisure time||· Success and career|
|· Family and friends||· Pleasure and consumption|
|· Health||· Courage|
|· Ecological sustainability||· Wealth|
|· Travel||· Self-fulfilment|
|· Social involvement||· Loyalty|
|· Responsibility||· Trust|
The result is fairly clear: 84% of our employees put “Health” in first place. This is closely followed by “Family and friends” at 76%. Some way behind that, the answer “Enough leisure time” made it to third place with 33%. None of the other answers exceeded the 25% mark.
In answer to the question “What characterises a good manager, in your opinion?”, the most important quality of a manager was deemed to be “Specialist competence and methodical expertise”. A no-go area for managers is “Lack of loyalty to their own employees”.
For the third question we wanted to know how many of our GYers aspired towards a management position themselves. Here, the Klöber employees differed fairly significantly from the majority of GYers, because 71% would like to be in a management role themselves at some point in their lives. Only 27% have made a definite decision against this career goal and 2% abstained or couldn’t decide.
Our penultimate question was about the characteristics and benefits offered by an employer, which would be determining factors when deciding whether to take a job. There was a choice of 14 answers, of which up to 5 could be selected:
|· Well-known brand||· Professional HR management|
|· Reliability of the company||· Quality of management|
|· Development potential||· Social involvement|
|· Ethical principals||· Location|
|· International character (projects, colleagues)||· Pay|
|· Mutually supportive working atmosphere||· Work-life balance|
|· Creativity||· Future career options|
The result was relatively clear-cut for this question too: 92% of our employees look for a mutually supportive working atmosphere, while 85% consider the pay. A further 76% value the reliability of a company, and 61% each attach importance to a good work-life balance and to future career options. 46% cite the location here, 38% the development potential and 30% the quality of management. The remaining answers did not achieve a percentage in double figures.
Our fifth and final question should be quite interesting for company bosses, because we wanted to know where the GYers find out about a potential employer. There were 14 possible answers for this question too, and multiple selections were allowed.
|· Adverts in trade magazines||· Graduate recruitment fairs|
|· Adverts in daily newspapers||· Employment websites (e.g. Monster)|
|· Well-known brand||· Employees at the prospective company (friends)|
|· Articles in newspapers/magazines||· “Private” social networks (e.g. Facebook)|
|· Brochures and flyers from the company||· Search engine (e.g. Google)|
|· Business networks (e.g. XING/LinkedIn)||· Open day|
|· Experience reports (in chats/forums)||· Company website|
Interestingly it turns out that 84.6% of candidates would find out about a prospective employer in person from “Employees at the prospective company”. The company website ranks highly here, also with 84.6%, and 69.2% use search engines such as Google to research a potential employer.
Conclusion: does Generation Y live up to its reputation?
Having found out the exciting background information on Generation Y as well as their parents and grandparents, the different ways of thinking from one generation to the next seemed more and more obvious. The economic hardship of the war generation inevitably led to a survival culture, which they passed on to their children, the Baby Boomers. It was mostly through hard work that the Baby Boomers managed the transition into an affluent society with financial security. Characterised by this environment, there were countless new opportunities for their children – the current Generation Y. This, together with an extremely strong sense of self-awareness, explains why the GYers have such high demands. Despite everything: I don’t think you can stick a whole generation in a pigeonhole. For instance the survey results at Klöber have shown that our Generation Y employees certainly do have high career ambitions. Companies need to adapt to the new Generation Y attitudes if they hope to retain the young and qualified employees in the long term. State-of-the-art, top quality office furniture and equipment is the first sign of appreciation.