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Generation Y: Changing Workplace Dynamics

15 Aug 2013

With an aging Baby Boomer generation moving into retirement age; Generation Y are stepping up to bridge the skills gap.

Generation Y, defined as being born in the early 1980s through to the early 2000s, span a variety of age groups and present a unique challenge to recruiters.

With Generation Y entering and moving forward in their careers, companies will need to carefully consider how they incentivise this group in order to attract and retain the best talent. Some companies may have to go as far as completely changing their pay and reward structure to accommodate what is regarded as a more demanding employee.

Described as confident, driven and dedicated to success, Generation Y are academically bright with high expectations from their employers. For example, 32% of them are unhappy with how their manager performs and plan to seek new challenges within two years. 

Generation Y are intrinsically technological. Labelled the “smartphone generation,” they have grown up with technology and like feeling connected at all hours of the day, communicating more through digital platforms than face to face or over the phone.

As this generation move forward in their careers, companies will need to carefully consider how they incentivise this group in order to attract and retain the best talent.

How these changes ultimately manifest is still up for debate. But what is clear is that most, if not all, employers will have to adopt some form of change to pay and rewards to accommodate what is regarded as a more demanding employee.



The retirement of business leaders will create a mass culture change for most organisations. This means that it is more important than ever to prepare for the future trends that will shape the corporate world. This includes plans to:

  • Transfer knowledge to the next generation
  • Evaluate the organisation’s structure and how talent is recruited
  • Embrace new communication methods and online social platforms

With baby boomers retiring and with birth rates falling, the war for talent is likely to continue for years to come. Changing workplace demographics will put effective recruitment at the forefront of many businesses strategic plans, as they battle to attract the best leaders to grow the best teams.

With forecasts showing that Generation Y are likely to have 10 to 14 jobs by the time they are 38, companies have to consider short term incentives and contract roles to attract Generation Y employees.



Motivated by money, job status, praise and career advancement, Generation Y are autonomous in their career and have the flexibility and freedom into how they manage themselves. Generation Y are less interested in pension plans and retirement rewards, than previous generations. As a contrast, those born between the 1960s to the 1970s appreciated that they needed to invest the man hours to get ahead in their careers. Businesses must recognise and adapt to the fact that Generation Y strive for a work life balance.

Other perks that they look for are performance related bonus, generous annual leave entitlements, gym memberships, dental and medical cover and flexible working hours.

They crave a working environment where they are acknowledged, given feedback and praised regularly. They want to feel wanted, respected, valued and fully appraised of company processes and operations.

Although generally confident and career driven, Generation Y employees often host self-doubt. This requires outstanding leadership, where the manager is accessible, inspires and supports the employee. Generation Y like to feel that they are being invested in and are making a significant positive impact on the organisation.

Employers will also need to accept that Generation Y live in a paradoxical world. In this world they need to feel that they are being invested in, that they are making a significant positive impact, whilst all the time keeping one eye on the door to the next step in their career.


Key Requirements for Change

This represents a significant step change in social culture and it will not just effect "Big PLC".In order to recruit and retain Generation Y talent, business leaders are realising the need for considerable change to cater for the new generation of worker.

To adapt, organisations are undertaking the following:

  • Research the main motivators for Generation Y
  • Foster a flexible and progressive working environment
  • Get social and embrace new technologies
  • Provide regular feedback and coaching to employees
  • Senior management discovering what it takes to retain Generation Y employees

Generation Y understand that their skills are covetable, therefore it is vital that companies have a strong employer brand and a recruitment strategy to develop with the evolving labour market.

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