Gen-Y

The word has been hovering around throughout my working life ever since I started working. I guess most of us have heard this word before. In big organisations especially, this term, Gen Y is a big thing especially in HR circles. Why do you you think I say this? Well, I think when people mention Gen Y, it's normally to do with a "different" type of generation in an organisation whereby their needs, expectation and potential are rather different than say, the baby boomers or even the Gen X. Therefore for superiors to extract the full potential of these Gen Y employees requires a more specific understanding of what this Gen Y is all about. Who do they really want!? 

Haaa... for this you lucky readers have me to try help shed some light on this topic. Armed with Google and Wikipedia (see... I'm also Gen Y kan....) I have made some researcho on this topic but first, the definition of Generation Y, courtesy of course of Wikipedia:

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, Generation Next or Net Generation,[1][2][3] describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. Its members are often referred to as Millennials[4][5] or Echo Boomers[6]. As there are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid 1970s[7][8][9][9][10][11][12] to the early2000s.[13][14][15][6][16][17][18][19][20] This generation generally represents an increase in births from the 1980s and 90s, not because of a significant increase in birthrates, but because the large cohort of baby boomers began to have children. The 20th century trend toward smaller families in developed countries continued,[21][22] however, so the relative impact of the "baby boom echo" was generally less pronounced than the original boom.
Characteristics of the generation vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions. However, it is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. In most parts of the world its upbringing was marked by an increase in a neoliberal approach to politics and economics.[23]The effects of this environment are disputed.[24][25]

Okay, that is what Wikipedia says, so you can imagine that that's a petty generic definition based on a "western" context. My internet research led me to this survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) entitled "Malaysia's Gen Y unplugged - A 2009 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey on millennials at work". You can download the full survey write up here. You your benefit I have read the survey and included my comments and opinions to the findings of this survey. We'll start off with how PWC defines Gen-Y:

Who are the millennials?
 
The term millennials, or Gen Y, describes someone born immediately after 'Gen X'2. The exact range of birth years that constitute the millennial generation is not defined, however it is generally accepted as those born in and after 1980. For purposes of the Malaysia survey, we refer to the millennials as those born from 1980 onwards, and who
have entered the workforce after 1 July 2000. The contents of this report are specific to Malaysia and is intended to complement the global PwC report, Millennials at work – perspectives from a new generation, which can be accessed from this website:
www.pwc.com/managingpeople2020

Okay, so who thinks they fall into this Gen Y category please raise your hands =)

Right before we proceed into the juicy stuff, here's more about the survey, how it was conducted, on who and so on...

In 2007, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published a report on the future of people management. This report, Managing tomorrow's people – the future of work to 2020, focused on the people impact of new business models and the ramifications for people management and the Human Resource function. 
 
Following that publication, a second survey was launched to examine the thoughts and expectations of a new generation of workers, known as the millennials. 
 
This global study, Millennials at work – perspectives from a new generation, surveyed 4,271 graduates from 44 countries in September 2008. The regional breakdown included: 1,004 in North America and the Caribbean, 943 in Asia, 759 in Western Europe, 481 in Central and Eastern Europe, 215 in South and Central America, 139 in Australasia and the Pacific Islands, 67 in Middle East and Africa.
  
The Malaysia survey – participant demographic
 
 In PwC Malaysia, the millennials or Generation Y (Gen Y), make up approximately 62% of our workforce. In January 2009, we heard from 346 of them – their views of the world of work in 2020, how they expect their environment to evolve, and the current economic crisis. These 346 respondents:
 
Were predominantly under the age of 25 (61%), 
 
Were two-thirds female (67%), 
 
Have been in the workforce for 2-5 years (73%)

Our sampled population differed slightly from the global survey, which studied graduates who were due to begin working for or were already working for PwC. This could contribute to some of the key variances between the Malaysian and global results. 

Throughout this report, we have quoted the respondents verbatim. The findings and conclusions from this survey are combined with insights from the global report, our previous analysis on the future of work and other data sources. 

Now that the formalities are over, lets see what the findings are.....

Okay, their survey created a profile of what a Gen Y is and in a nutshell, this is what a Gen Y is:

Bold.
Brash.
Facebooking.
iPhone lovers.
Multitaskers.
Tweeting.

True, kinda agree to a certain point but here's PwC's "Cheat sheet" on Gen Ys, my comments in italics:

10 quick facts

1. Consistency gets stale. They want mobility throughout their career lifetime, preferably involving overseas stints.
- Yes, I agree with this point. People of my generation seem to like trying new things to hopefully realise their true potential. Staying put doing one this just dulls the mind and makes one complacent. 
 
2. Job-hopping is overrated. Debunking the portfolio careers myth, our Gen Y will remain loyal to their employer – as long as they feel fulfilled in their role, that is.
- I have an uncle a few years older than me. His generation, job hopping was commonplace and in fact the way to go if you want a quick bump in Salary. I believe that people i know from my generation value job stability, probably because of the economic down turn and scarcity of good jobs here in Malaysia. But I have also know many that have left their jobs to do something though not as highly paid, but more fulfilling to them. At the end of the day, job satisfaction is more important to the Gen Y.
 
3. Green is in. Issues of sustainability and climate change are of major concern, and will affect their career choices.
- Well, I can say for a fact that indeed, green is in. I would say in Malaysia its not as pronounced as in western countries - my UK friends are far more eco conscious but definitely, recycling, biofuels, re-using plastic bags, buying more fuel efficient cars etc... are all very much the in think with Gen Y.  
 
4. Can't live without gadgets. They've grown up with technology – it is part and parcel of their lives, which includes the work they do for a living.
Well, this one is rather dependent on who you are asking. Well, generally mobile phones are all the craze these days. For the recently employed, smart phones like the iPhone and Blackberries are all the rage nowadays. At a close 2nd are SLR cameras and ofcourse - Laptop computers. Yes, this generation loves it's tech...
 
5. The term work-life balance is passe. Employers can't just encourage a balance but should provide the means for this balance through more flexible work hours.
- This for me is paramount. I come in early to work because I need to beat the traffic but staying past 5pm? only if it's absolutely necessary. If you need to stay back after work to get your work done it's either 1) You are incompetent or lazy and not up for the task. 2) Your boss has given you an impossible deadline 3) Your organisation is understaffed. oklah I'll add number 4) Your work requires input from someone else and you are at their mercy... Work life balance is very important to ensure a high general quality of life. I for one wouldn't want to realise when I'm 50 that all that I've been doing is work and have so much I still want to achieve or do in life! 
 
6. Respect my space, please. The Gen Y maintain clear separation between their work and personal lives, and are unwilling to share too much personal information
with their employers.
- I have always been this type of person but I'm not sure of my colleagues and other Gen Ys. Some people I know exclusively hang out with their officemates and some never. I guess if the statement means that Gen Ys value privacy well, i guess in general yes. But in the world of Facebook and Twitter, privacy has to be actively taken care of.  
 
7. Coaching welcomed here. They prefer on-the-job development rather than formalised training, especially working with strong coaches and mentors.
- I agree strongly with this. I believe that hands on, on the job training (OJT) is far more effective that sitting in a classroom listening to a speaker struggling to stay awake. OJT is also much cheaper to the employer plus productivity is maintained.  
 
8. Cash is king. When it comes to benefits, cash bonuses are valued higher than training and development.
- In the age of google and wikipedia, training and development is somehow less valued by the Gen Y as there is a wealth of information available through the internet or can be obtained by email correspondence with the persons of the subject matter. Cash however is king as modern urban lifestyle requires more spending. also, Gen Ys are generally smarter at managing their finances and are increasingly aware of investment opportunities and wealth protection and management.
 
9. We are all made the same. They believe in gender equality, where they and their partners will contribute an equal amount of financial support for their households.
- I believe it is not only gender equality but also racial equality and social status equality. Anak Datuks or politician's children no longer carry as much clout as the used to do in Malaysian Gen Y society. The Gen Y middle class is getting bigger by the day thus more and more people are assuming everyone else is the same which is a good thing. Women are now seen as equals to men in the office and race usually is a non-issue too. If a mat salleh expat is wrong or not as good as he claims to be the Gen Y is not shy to point that out. No preferential treatment cos you're the "white man" okay. Same goes to other races and vice, versa...
 
10. I rely on me. They will take personal responsibility for funding their retirement. 
- As  pointed out in point 8 above, Gen Ys are generally smarter when it comes to wealth management and retirement fund. EPF payouts should be sufficient but nevertheless, investing and insurance/takaful businesses have boomed in Malaysia during the past decade, most likely because of the demand from the Gen Ys.

Okay, this is taking longer than usual so I'll leave it here for now. I'll continue with my PwC report analysis later in a new post. Hope you enjoy this piece of the puzzle that is Gen Y.