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HR Trends - Mind The Generation Gap

Jan 20, 2012 10:00:57 AM

in HR Trends


Over the last few years there has been a major groundswell in the volume of literature discussing the imminent arrival of the next generation of employees to the workplace. Dubbed ‘Generation Y’ or, more colloquially as ‘Millenials’, this generation was born between the loosely defined dates of the mid-80’s to the early 90’s and is generally considered to be a drastically different breed than any previous generation. Citing technological advances, economic instability and increased community investment via social media tools, as the defining features of the oncoming generation; much of the literature is directed at HR and Hiring Managers, Executives, Owners and their contemporaries, and offers advice on how to prepare for such a wildly different generation of employees.

The Personnel Department has a unique perspective on the question of Millenials, but before we discuss that let’s take a few moments to provide the context for the debate. Typically, the articles and publications discussing the nature of Millenials fall into two broad opinion categories…

Millenial Supporters
Pundits from this camp tend to highlight the unique toolkit of skills and abilities that the oncoming waves of college-educated young professionals possess. These articles see Millenials as…

Technological Messiahs

  • Millenials are veritable techno-gurus, so connected with their gadgets, gizmos and networking devices that they can seamlessly navigate any technological device ever made. While older employees may struggle with the simplest fax machine, Millenials take to technology like a fish to water.

Collaborative Commanders

  • Generation Y has a powerful instinct to work within group settings. Their use of social networks and their high-quality educations incline them to work together to solve problems. Employing each individual’s unique strength creates a strong teamwork mentality and a more collaborative work environment.

Multi-Tasking Mages

  • With their amped up technological lifestyles, Millenials can handle all of the tasks at once. They are the best equipped generation to transition into the era of the New Workplace, one dominated by technological and multi-tasking demands that other Generations are easily outpaced by.

Not everyone sees the impending arrival of the Millenials as an auspicious occasion…

Millenial Detractors
These articles underscore the woeful inadequacies of the teeming masses of over-educated, under-performing, self-inflated youth that stand poised to descend upon an unsuspecting office environment. These publications focus on Millenials as…

Sheltered Youth

  • Growing up with over-protective parents, many of whom are zealously dedicated to the success of their children, has created a generation unable to accept criticism or make decisions on their own. Most articles have chilling examples of parents showing up in the workplace, or attending first interviews alongside their offspring.

Indecorous Brutes

  • With no critical input, most Millenials lack a proper sense of office etiquette, professionalism or chains of command. Trained by a world catered to their needs, Generation Y expects even the CEO of their company to be available to them on a moment’s notice.

Precocious Professionals

  • Convinced of their own self-worth, artificially inflated by supportive parents and a coddling school system, Millenials have no appreciation for investing in a task before it pays off. They expect to be taken at their word, not on their merits.

Each camp offers a variety of different methods for coping or taking advantage of the respective benefits or detriments that Millenials present to the workforce. Clearly these two camps are diametrically opposed, they can’t both be right as the positions advanced are mutually exclusive, so the answer has to lie somewhere in between the two extremes.

This is where The Personnel Department comes in. Across all our Branch locations and including our Headquarters in Vancouver, our company is 50% comprised of employees who identify as Millenials; they fill a variety of key positions in our company and are integral to our success as a company. What have we done differently to position our company to best provide for the oncoming generation? By tailoring our hiring practices to determine how each potential employee relates to our 5 Core Values, we can find ways to cross generational gaps and create teams of individuals that span from Boomer to Millenial. How do our 5 Core Values allow us to engage more fully with Millenials? We’ll answer that question in more detail next week!
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