Gen Y Anatomy Lesson- They�re Not Alien, Just different

Gen Y Anatomy Lesson- They�re Not Alien, Just different

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Gen Y Anatomy Lesson: They’re Not Alien, Just Different Fall 2010 Mary Jeanne Welsh, CPA, PhD, and Paul R. Brazina, CPA Thriving organizations change in response to, or in anticipation of, new conditions. Breakthrough technologies and shifts in the competitive environment are commonly cited reasons for organizational change. Another potential force for change is often overlooked. What happens when new employees are hired, especially younger employees, who represent a new generation entering the profession? Does the accounting profession know what to expect as Generation Y (Gen Y) enters the workforce? Their goals, expectations, and values may be different from their predecessors, and managers and partners need to understand any potential culture shift. This article explores generational differences in work values and offers some suggestions for managing Gen Y. Generations A generation is an “identifiable group that shares birth years, age location, and significant life events at critical development stages.”1 The accounting profession, like the workforce in general, is dominated by the Baby Boomers, born roughly between 1946 and 1961, the oldest of whom are approaching retirement, and Generation X, born between 1962 and 1979. Gen Y (also called Millennial Generation) is usually defined as born in the years 1980 to 2000. The oldest members of Gen Y turn 30 this year, and your firm has probably already hired, and will continue to hire, Gen Y. Events that Shaped Gen Y Like all labeled generations, Gen Y’s common experiences helped to shape their shared behaviors. Three of the most prominent influences include the following: o Mega-traumas, including historic acts of terrorism, school violence, and natural disasters. o Increased access to technology and new forms of communication. o A pro-child culture in which mothers frequently work outside the home.2 These impactful influences can’t help but shape Gen Y’s attitudes toward work. Many members of the Class of 2010, entering the profession this year, watched the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on TV at the age of 12 or 13. They were college freshmen when multiple students were killed during a mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Media coverage of violent attacks and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, create a sense that the world is a dangerous place and that life can end suddenly. The Gen Y response is to want to live life fully now. To sacrifice their personal life now for possible future rewards (promotion, salary) does not make sense to many of the members of Gen Y. For the young worker, personal relationships are extremely important.3
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Technology is ubiquitous to Gen Y. It connects them to the world and to one another. Gen Y is the first generation to be constantly connected and in continual communication with friends and family. In the past few years, texting has replaced voice as the primary way of communicating for Gen Y, and e-mail is “old” technology. Gen Y, because of the Internet, see information as always accessible – no need for a physical
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This note was uploaded on 03/03/2011 for the course OBHR 101 taught by Professor W during the Spring '11 term at National University of Singapore.

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Gen Y Anatomy Lesson- They�re Not Alien, Just different

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