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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Gen Y and the Workplace—Ellen

My generation went to school, then business college and then to a job. Technology has changed a lot since the early 1980s, but the biggest change to me has been the change in attitude of what we now call the Generation Y or Gen Y employees who appear to have a different work ethic and a different outlook to us ‘oldies’ or Gen X. Gen Y have never experienced life without Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, iPads, iPods, mobile phones, apps, and social media at their fingertips, calling up movies on demand and even breaking up relationships by SMS.

Gen Y expect their work tools to be available to them so that they can combine personal activities (posting comments and happenings on Facebook) with their work activities.

Gen Y expectations are to be more flexible in regards to where and when the work gets done. Gen Y expect their work tools to be available to them so that they can combine personal activities (posting comments and happenings on Facebook) with their work activities. They want to work more in teams so that the team works towards solving a problem. They are more creative when there is a variety of activities that spur on more interaction. On the other hand, we, Generation X, expect to get the job done and solve our own problems.

You now see more casual meeting places for employees to discuss, to collaborate, to plan and brainstorm the solutions to problems. There are spaces for one-on-one talks, group meetings, group planning, spaces for high focus activities. They use all the tools they have at hand to find information. Companies spend a lot of money in issuing their staff with company mobile phones, corporate network connection to their homes, global access to colleagues, and apps.

I used to think like a lot of other ‘oldies’ that the company wasted a lot of money with technology and handing it around to staff. I’ve worked since the early 1980s and I have worked in this company for 19 years. Lots of people have come and gone. Lots of people have not been able to adapt to the new workplace settings. I have come to appreciate Gen Y’s energy, their enthusiasm and their willingness to help me, especially, when I have a technology problem. (It’s probably like helping their grandmother.) I love being surrounded by young and keen people. I enjoy embracing the new way of working. I now have the technology connected to my ‘tools’ of the trade and these days, I work from home every Friday—I love it!

Don’t be put off—I think we could learn a lot from Gen Y. We can take up their example and be adaptable, versatile and flexible. Works for me!


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