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Gen Y: Your Work BFF?

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Generational groups, also known as a cohort, are a group of individuals who share historical and life experiences, and the effects of these experiences are relatively stable over the course of their life.

There is often confusion as to what separates millennials from Gen Y. Millennials are individuals who were born between 1982 and 2004, and although the dates may vary, depending on the country, Gen Y generation comprises individuals born between 1977 to 2001.

Gen Y often gets a bad rap. They're often branded as too laid back. But at work, Gen Y can be your best ally. That's the contention of Shirley Engelmeier, CEO and founder of Inclusion Inc., who has been an inclusion and diversity strategist and consultant for more than 19 years. She is also the author of the book Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage. She said workers should value Gen Y in the workplace for multiple reasons.

  • Gen Y is more technologically savvy. Millennials, as they are also dubbed, have grown up with more technology than any other generation. This group grew up with technology and social media, and has a strong capacity to work with and leverage the currency of a knowledge-based global economy. 
  • Gen Y is more comfortable with diverse ethnic groups. Gen Y's daily use of email, texting and social networks is expected to follow them to the workplace, and has made Gen Y an extremely social and interconnected group. They are comfortable collaborating with co-workers virtually and in person, but their social interactions aren't bound by geography. Additionally, Gen Y is much more ethnically and racially diverse than previous generations, which will create more diverse and inclusive workplaces in the coming years.
  • Gen Y has limited patience with the status quo. Members of Gen Y have grown up encouraged by their parents not to take the world at face value. They have learned to question virtually everything and are sometimes called "Generation Why."  This group is always looking for new ways to approach business as usual and isn't satisfied with answers like "Because that’s the way it's always been done." While there might be the perception among older adults that this willingness to challenge the status quo as a lack of respect for authority or a know-it-all approach to professional life, much of this willingness to challenge business as usual stems from the fact that members of Gen Y have grown up in a world of constant technological and societal change. They realize that doing things the way they have always been done simply won't continue to work.
  • Gen Y are today's business innovators. The business world of the future will belong to Gen Y, and companies looking to succeed in that new world should include Gen Y in planning for it. The speed with which the global economy and business world are changing cannot be overstated. Gen Y can lead those companies' transformations to knowledge-based, globally competitive organizations.

Gen Y is the fastest-growing generation when it comes to business, team leaders and business leaders. Although "tech savvy" is the most common term used to describe this generation, many other characteristics have been used to describe Gen Y, including the following.

Instead of working long shifts in hopes of working their way up the corporate ladder, millennials prefer flexible working schedules and a more balanced work/home life. This generation has grown up in households with overworked parents, which has driven them to have a new perspective regarding their work life. This generation enjoys a fulfilling work environment as well as a full family life.

Teamwork is high on the list for millennials. Most prefer to collaborate through regular team meetings. They want to be included and involved, and they expect transparency from colleagues and management.

This generation is quick to reply to a text, Facebook message or email. Even though they may put a phone call off for a bit, they will return your call. When it comes to their working environment, millennials prefer to communicate through emails, which is thought to be quicker and more effective.

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.