The generational divide is getting a lot of press recently. Every business seems to be worrying about a significant generational divide as the work ethics and attitudes of Gen Y are exponentially different from the Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers who are hiring, managing and working with them.

This blog from the Mainstream Conference has a really great info graphic that summarizes the attitudes of the generations to work. Yet the generational gap / divide has been around since the 1960’s.  I am starting to wonder if the attitudes of the new generation of workers is that much different that the attitudes I and my contemporaries had when we started working (in the early 80’s incase you are wondering).

The info graphic says that:

  • Generation Y does not expect to work for a company for more than a year. Yet when I started in IT, we were told that to get ahead we needed to change jobs every year and that staying with one company proved that we did not have it. I averaged 3 jobs every 2 years when I started. 
  • Generation Y wants to find a job that makes them happy. Sure that was my goal as well. If I could find a job that made me happy as well as paying me that was a bonus. I did not expect to always be happy in my job, sometimes as the expression goes, you just had to suck it up and soldier on. You needed to make a living. 
  • Generation Y value a complements on their performance more than their bonus. Well here you might have me, compliments were what I got, and I valued them, after all I bonuses where not offered. It was not until later in my career that bonuses were offered, and with bills to pay, I valued them as they are a monetary express of a job well done.
  • That they come across as immature and  are only after instant feed back. That seems to describe me as well when I started out.  I was young, immature, still searching for my place and wanted to know that what I was doing was, 1) correct, 2) what was wanted, 3) and would make a difference (otherwise why do it). 
  • That they looked at how hard their parents worked and want flexible schedules also seems to apply to me. My first real job in a bank’s IT department, had flex hours, starting time anywhere between 7 – 9 am, not bad for the early 80’s. And did I want to work as hard as my parents did, no I did not. But did I end up working as hard or harder, yes I did. But not at first. I will admit to not being innovative, collaborative, nor globally minded when I started, so there are some differences.

I guess my real questions to everyone are the following:

  1. Do you expect that there will be a problem with the Generation Y’s ?
  2. Do expect them to carry these attitudes throughout their careers?
  3. Be honest, where you that much different (except for the use of technology)?

Please add your comments, I am very interested in what you are thinking.

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