Five Myths About Generation Y

There is a great article over at strategy+business (free registration required) that highlights five myths that continue to be perpetuated about generational differences, especially when it comes to the “Millenials” or “Generation Y.”  The cited research specifically addresses five myths:

  1. Millenials don’t want to be told what to do
  2. Millenials lack organizational loyalty
  3. Millenials aren’t interested in their work
  4. Millenials are motivated by perks and high pay
  5. Millenials want more work-life balance

For several years now, research study after research study have shown that generational differences have largely been over-hyped by training companies, consultants, and a whole cottage industry of companies that seek to make money on this premise.  Most studies find that employees, across generations, are seeking the same things in the workplace.  Of course there are differences in styles between older workers and younger workers, but that does not infer different motivations.

In fact, most differences in attitudes are more closely associated with age and tenure in the workforce themselves.  Yes, younger, lower paid employees are more concerned about compensation as they don’t make much money in the first place.  Yes, younger employees tend to change jobs more quickly – just like most of us did in our early 20’s.

I’m not suggesting that organizations don’t explore how they communicate to different demographic segments of their employee populations whether that be along the lines of age, culture, gender, etc.  However, it is time to question trite and oversimplified premises advanced by those who to seek to profit from them.

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