Generation Y: Are We Brats?

There’s certainly no doubt that many fresh, promising young people are entering the job market – but the integration of these new graduates into the traditional workforce isn’t exactly going smoothly. There seems to be a disconnect between the values and passions of the ‘Generation Y’ and those who came before them. But why? And what can companies do to ensure they attract, keep and continue to inspire young talent? 

Every week, I speak to companies who ask me if it’s possible for them to attract, retain, and motivate the next generations. The answer remains the same for all who ask it – yes, if you have the skills, opportunities and possibilities for growth that will keep them.

The thing is, the newly minted employees from Generations Y and Z do not want to just have ‘a job’. A job is no longer what you do in-between the key moments of your ‘real’ life. It is your life.

Through my lecture “Take Power Over Your Career” and in my book Ignite Your Career, I had the opportunity to discuss career opportunities with many young people,. The overwhelming feeling was that they feel frustrated about their future career. They say that their competences are not utilized at work and that a lot of talent is being wasted. So the question is, are they just expecting too much?

In an inter-connected world where the concept of 9-5 is rapidly disintegrating, the youngsters of Generation Y have no desire to do what traditional employment suggests – a daily grind that frees us up when the clock hits 5. As we continue to merge the worlds of work and play, barriers of employment are being ripped down. We are willing to work hard – work longer hours than the average of the generation before us- in order to do jobs that we love.

For many traditional companies, it is difficult to see where the value of Generation Y lies. To many, we seem more selfish, less active, with diminishing practical skills and a sense of entitlement. But in a world bent ever further towards harnessing the powers of group creativity, digital communication and shared insight, it would be foolish to consider these skills a waste.

As I see it, a young person must possess three key competences to be able to help companies into a new era:

•Language and understanding of different cultures

•IT and multimedia competences

•Social networking and emotional intelligences (that stimulate collaboration)

As a member of this so called ‘bratty’ generation, I know first hand the frustrations of not being understood by our traditional counterparts. We are called everything from “lazy” to “indifferent.” This isn’t true. We are very dedicated, but we don’t want to work on the same conditions as our parents did. We have seen the results of this way of working, and we know that things need to change.

We do know that we are the first generation to Google the word “passion” in the context of work, and we are aware that you laugh a little about that. But we believe that it is impossible to create great things without being passionate about what you do.

The industry-leading companies of the next few years will be the ones that do away with the idea that everybody is equal, that everyone must learn the same curriculum, and have the same experiences to bring value to the company. In five years, job descriptions will no longer exist.

Young employees will define their own tasks and bid on them – choosing their manager from project to project, not from year to year, and switch to another when they want to be inspired and learn something new.

Traditional systems, measurements, and control measures are on the way out. What will replace them? Systems that track the value of work being done, not the number of hours put in. We were taught that the world we grew up in was inefficient, sloppy and consumption-obsessed – and we consider this our time to get to the root of what it means to do things well.

In Generations Y and Z, we thrive on strong experiences and exciting projects, and we want a rich life together with inspiring people. We want to be allowed to be passionate about what we do. We want to make the world a better place, and we would love to do that together with experienced companies with ideas, talent and connections . But they have to want it too.

Soulaima Gourani

Soulaima Gourani is Chief Executive Officer of Soulaima Gourani as well as a Special Adviser to some of Scandinavia’s most demanding and ambitious companies, helping them overcome complex challenges and become more professional and passionate players in their industries. Follow her on Twitter @SoulaimaGourani 

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