There has always been a difference between generations known as a generation gap. However, not everyone is aware of the exact timeframes, which divide the generations. Some differences between various cohorts are obvious because of the varying values, morals, and interests. The difference in perception of the world and the background of generation representatives may affect the communication between different groups and various aspects of their lives. Millennials are the generation, which has recently entered the workforce and is believed to cause some problems to managers. The paper focuses on defining the special features of Millennials as a generation and a part of the workforce, as well as the myths connected with them.
Echo Boomers, Generation Y, Millennials – these are the widely known definitions of the generation, which came after Generation X. There were numerous attempts of identifying the exact dates, which would define the age of generation representatives. There are no specific dates, although it is typical for researchers and demographers to specify the starting birth years as the 1980s, ending with the 1990s and early 2000s (Generation Y 6).
Primarily, Millennials were called Generation Y in order to show the difference between the Generation X. However, it is believed that Millennials is a better name, since there exists the link of the new generation to the new millennium (the children, who were born in 1982 would graduate schools in 2000s). Another name of Millennials is the Echo Boomers, while Millennials are the baby boomers’ children. Another relation to the term is the birth rate increase, which took place in 1980s – 1990s, which is similar to the period their parents belong to (Generation Y 6).
Speaking more precisely about the dates, it is uncommon for researchers to define Millennial Generation starting with the 70s. They tend to define it as the early 80s. What concerns the ending point, there is also no agreement. Someone would define it as the 90s; others would decide to define it as early 2000s. Another group would say that there is still no ending point of the generation. Generally, Millennials are connected to the social and political changes, including economic crashes and the events of September 11, 2001 (Generation Y 6). Ultimately, sometimes the lines between Millennials and preceding Generation X, as well as following Generation Z, are blurred.
It is obvious that all the generations possess features that help to differentiate them. Generally, Millennials are described as a part of Generation Me. It implies Millennials being more narcissist and self-confident than other generations, but tolerant as well (The Millennials 1). They are used to digital devices, prefer working in urban areas, and have a more positive attitude to life. What concerns other typical assets of Millennials, they consider money and philosophy of life being important parts of their existence. Moreover, they tend to be less interested in politics and environmental issues than previous generations.
It is evident that the generation differences affect largely all the aspects of everyday life, including values, attitudes, and working approach. In fact, nowadays, a workforce is a manifestation of diversity. The concept of diversity is usually described in terms of ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender differences. However, diversity is more multidimensional as we may suggest and includes the work atmosphere as well. The contemporary workforce seems to be more difficult to manage because of the generational diversity. With the entry of Millennials in the working environment, it is easy to assume that it is the first time when four generations are the components of the workforce (The Millennials1). These are the Silent generation (10 % of the workforce), Baby Boomers (45 %), Generation X (30 %), and Millennials (15 %). Since the workforce is becoming older, Millennials are to become dominant representatives in the nearest future.
Resulting from the possibility of dividing workforce into four major groups, it is not difficult to suggest that co-workers belonging to different generations possess different expectations, attitudes, and values concerning their work. However, these differences may cause disagreement and problems for managers. It is not surprising that the majority of managers have to face conflicts and misunderstanding between older and younger employees.
The focus of the further discussion is the Generation Y, its characteristics in the workplace, and the way it affects the workforce in general. Primarily, Millennials are the most recent generation to become a part of the workforce (Eisner 4). One of the features of this cohort is the relative prosperity and economic stability in which they were growing. It is even called the most thriving generation (Eisner 4). However, its ending point was marked with economic crashes, violence, and general instability. Thus, Millennials have seen many drastic changes in different aspects of social development when they were relatively young. The free access to media sources, the September 11 terrorist attack, and economic uncertainty were rather eye-opening and contributed to the way Millennials perceive the world (Eisner 4). Consequently, some values and characteristics of the Silent Generation (1925-1945) may be traced in Generation Y. These traits include the moral principles, patriotism, as well as the value of home, family, and freedom.
In fact, all these factors tend to influence the way a person performs at work, as well as the attitude he or she exhibits to work and other people. The educational level and technical development of Millennials are similar in some ways to those of Baby Boomers, as well as the way they influenced social advancement and business management. They are a part of a globalizing world, where everyone is digitally connected. Furthermore, the technical education and awareness, as well as tolerance and ethnical diversity are at the highest point during the time of Generation Y (Eisner 4). Millennials are willing to be successful, look for intellectual challenges and people, who would help them in their professional way. They want to make a difference as well as set objectives for a purposeful performance.
Despite the high importance of money, it is not as valuable as family, a balanced life, and making the world and society better with their work. The technical education of Millennials is not only literacy; it is a practical engagement into digital world and its sources of entertainment and information. This way of perceiving information leads to a higher performance and multitasking ability (Eisner 5). In the workplace, Millennials want to receive the immediate feedback about their performance, as well as be included in the working process.
This generation is defined as global, socially aware, and interested in volunteering as well as quite demanding. If the skills are identified correctly and matched with a fitting work, the performance will be exceptional (Eisner 5). Interactivity, confidence, desire for self-development, and high technical awareness will make a millennial employer a timely addition to a company’s workforce. Furthermore, they understand the importance of hard work and have great expectations towards it. These expectations, however, are sometimes too high, which leads to switching jobs, as far as they are more open for leaving the position for better benefits (Eisner 5). Moreover, Millennials value fairness and are willing to be a part of a team.
Another tendency suggests Millennials being open-minded and able to complete a few tasks at a time. Enthusiasm and optimism are the driving forces of their performance. They are cooperative, energetic, and virtuous as well as respectful of the authority. At the same time, they show more respect to skills and achievements than position.
Sometimes, the prevailing characteristics of the generation tend to be untrue (Teitel). Despite all the media coverage and mocking, the greatest unfairness is hidden in the field of work. Sometimes, the representatives of Generation Y complain about the comparison in work attitude between them and their parents. The myth or even a stereotype implies Millennials being technologically skilled, but constantly disrupted; clever and educated, but not thankful and lazy.
Despite all the alleged characteristics of Millennials, they are described as having more sensible working ethics than the previous generation. Moreover, Baby Boomers as well as Millennials are dedicated to their work to equal extent. In general, the great variety in work ethics between different generations does not exist, and Millennials work as hard as any other generation (Teitel). The attitude to work depends more on the personal involvement and desire to work than their age. Nevertheless, young people are still overlooked as inexperienced and lazy, which sometimes makes their carrier way even more difficult.
Another characteristic of Millennials includes the similar dimensions. Thus, on the one hand, they are self-involved, unwilling to work, unstable in pursuing one activity, easily distracted, and impatient (Pfau 2). On the other hand, they are purposeful, outgoing, and balanced in terms of their work and personal life. Since the unfair division, the vast variety of companies decided to help Millennials in turning the generation differences into advantages. These attempts are followed by numerous writings, seminars, and lectures aimed at presenting the Generation Y from its best sides. There are also a number of serious academic researches to support the point. Ultimately, the existence of any drastic changes in attitude to work between different generations was not proved, and if there exists one, it is insignificant (Pfau 3).
The difference is in the stage of life and the age itself. Moreover, it is sometimes incorrect to change the company’s running and relations within a team from the point of view of generational differences. The same number of Millennials wants to contribute to their company’s welfare as Generation X wants to (Pfau 4). Millennials are more satisfied with their working perspectives and training; they constitute a majority of the workforce. They are more optimistic than their older colleagues, trustful, proud of the organization they work for, and eager to find a higher purpose at work. It is suggested that Millennials are “job-hopping” and more likely to leave the firm in case of new opportunities. However, the research shows the opposite (Pfau 4). Ultimately, the stereotypes and grabby headlines telling about the great difference between the generations and their working approach is the reason why people treat Millennials in an unfair way. In addition, the difference in work dedication and performance depend more on age, gender, personality, and character features, than on belonging to some generation.
In conclusion, Generation Y, also known as Millennial Generation has recently become a part of a working environment. People who were born between 1980s – early 2000s tend to exhibit the features, which emphasize the difference in the attitudes concerning all the aspects of life. What concerns the working area, Millennials are usually unfairly treated and represented as lazy, impatient, and easily disrupted. Despite this unflattering characteristic, Millennials are as hard-working as any other generation. They are energetic, competitive, involved, respectful, and educated. Technical literacy is one of the main advantages of the generation. Nevertheless, the paper defines no great difference between generations and their attitude to work. In addition, there is a variety of other more influential factors, which define a person’s success in the working sphere.