Generation Y has been accused by its elders of being entitled, brash and egotistical. However, like most labels, these stereotypes fail to provide a full picture of this generation’s capabilities.
Gen Yers, also known as Millennials, include people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Last year, they became the largest share of the American workforce. They are the foundation upon which many companies will build their future.
While some dismiss this group as being lazy and self-centered, research shows the opposite. In fact, Gen Yers are working harder than you realize because they are tech-savvy and better at multitasking than previous generations.
Millennials are well educated. They value giving back. And they desperately want to have an impact and make a name for themselves. But unlike previous generations, Gen Yers live to work, rather than work to live.
Furthermore, if current trends hold, they may well end up being known as a generation of activists and entrepreneurs who make a difference without being strapped to their desks.
Here’s an inside look at the 5 key traits that make Gen Y different from previous generations.
1. High career expectations with an emphasis on work-life balance.
Gen Yers have high expectations for their careers. Studies show that they are more likely than other group to seek a new job and to expect a promotion every two years.
They are good collaborators, and are eager to contribute. In addition, they are bursting with ideas. If you recognize their capabilities and give them enough leeway to see their ideas through, they will produce amazing results.
But this is not a group of 9-to-5’ers. Gen Yers would rather work at an interesting job for less money than at a job that fails to excite them.
Unlike previous generations, Gen Yers aim to have a healthy work-life balance. For them, work is a necessary part of life, but isn’t the entire focus of their life.
2. Self-confident multitaskers.
Some may say that Gen Yers have an attitude of entitlement after being pampered by their parents, when in fact they are simply self-confident and achievement-oriented.
Yes, this generation may have a shorter attention span than their elders, but they also grew up using multiple screens and doing multiple tasks at the same time.
In fact, many Gen Yers are comfortable juggling six or more projects simultaneously.
What it comes down to is that Gen Yers are using their tech savvy and their multitasking skills, as well as their vast social networks, in order to get work done quickly and efficiently. This way, they can move on to the next thing.
Gen Y also has an insatiable appetite for learning because they plan on using those skills to continue advancing in their careers and interests. This also explains why they have such high expectations.
3. Eternal optimists.
Gen Yers see the glass as half full. As eternal optimists, they believe in enjoying life – and they desire new experiences and a life lived to the fullest.
Given what this generation has gone through, their attitude is astonishing. This group of people has faced a post-9/11 world, higher unemployment rates and increasing student loan debt. And yet, surveys still show that Gen Yers are persistently optimistic.
Perhaps this comes from the confidence with which they have been imbued, or the fact that, despite the rising cost of college, they are better educated than previous generations.
Or maybe it’s just part of human nature to be optimistic even in woeful circumstances. In the end, Gen Yers believe it will all work out.
4. Money is great but has its place.
Money is important to Gen Yers — and a quick look at what college loans are up to these days can explain why.
Millennials know they need a well-paying job to cover these growing costs and have financial security in the future. Many have seen how hard their parents had to work to make ends meet and are hoping they can do better.
Having grown up during one of the worst recessions of modern times and during a subprime mortgage crisis, they are also less likely to make big purchases like buying a home. Perhaps they simply don’t see the need to be saddled with more debt.
But while they seek financial stability, Gen Y also doesn’t believe that money is the most important thing in life.
In fact, 87.5% of them disagreed with the statement “money is the best measure of success,” compared to 78% of the total population. Again, this is likely related to Gen Yers focus on creating a work-life balance.
5. Altruistic view of the world.
Though Gen Yers are fueled by their sense of self purpose and confidence, and though they care about money, they also emphasize giving back and making a real difference in this world.
They have high levels of volunteerism and activism, and appreciate employers who foster these in their work environment.
They take up causes and lend their voice and extensive social networks to organizations or movements that they feel are important.
Their activism is also likely linked to their optimism and belief that all things are possible. The bottom line is they want to make an impact on this world and want to start doing it now.
So much for being self-absorbed and lazy. Altruism is alive and well with Generation Y.