The definition of the latter is anybody born between 1980 and 2000 and apparently by 2025 this demographic will make up 75% of the global workforce! So I thought it would be interesting to have a quick look at some of the key factors affecting them in the workplace.
This generation has had many alternative names, the Internet Generation, Echo Boomers, the Boomlet, Nexters, Generation Y, the Digital Generation and now I’ve coined it as the PGG! This group (including myself) has recently re-kindled their childhood through Pokemon Go, an app which has broken all records with 10 million+ downloads in the first week since its release - it now has a higher average daily use than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram & WhatsApp.
There is plenty of truth behind the statement, even if it may sound sweeping, that the PGG have grown up with more technology than anyone else in history. We have been exposed to video games, social media, cell phones and mobile technology from an increasingly young age. This exposure during our impressionable years has led to certain characteristics within our personalities. I’m sure Managers across the globe are currently dealing with the impact of Pokemon Go in the office environment - people sat at their desks ‘swiping up’ in order to catch that cherished wild Pikachu.. In this blog I would like to explore some supposed key traits of the PGG generation.
In Deloitte’s ‘Millennial Survey’ “78 percent of Millennials were strongly influenced by how innovative a company was when deciding if they wanted to work there”. Within my specialist area of Internal Audit recruitment this could encompass areas such as Data Analytics and Data visualization / Dashboards. A wonderful way of thinking about it is that the digital age, more than any other factor, has united a generation globally from the UK to Japan. However in the same way this can lead to a huge divide; behemoths like Microsoft have for years been promoting their philanthropy programs in order to provide those below the poverty line with the required tools to develop their skills in the modern age.
From the research I’ve looked at it seems that the PGG workforce or entrepreneur is keener to have fewer face-to-face meetings and to send more emails. I disagree that this is the best way to operate and still feel that a face-to-face meeting carries the most gravitas. However the two can be played side by side. I recently visited a client who had equipped all meeting rooms with 360 degree cameras and projectors, allowing the board in New Zealand to speak to their Sydney office as though sat right across from each other; all very high tech.
Tradition / Location
The PGG don't believe in being tied to a certain location or tradition. This in itself has been born from a generation capable of arranging nearly everything through a 4G or wi-fi connection. Some would call it lazy, others a ‘generation that believes in efficiency of effort for maximum impact’. We’re not tied to traditions, my parents were teachers in London yet I work in a sales environment in Sydney, the world is our oyster. Now they get to enjoy a sunny Christmas visiting me. This can be a challenge for a global business in terms of managing the expectations of their best staff. A high performing Big 4 Accountant could expect opportunities in London, Europe, New York, Bermuda or here in Sydney.
When in the office the PGG want to work with friends and have fun, whilst being respected. It’s immediately obvious that a number of start-up businesses look to attract this talent through simply adding a darts board or pool table to the office environment. Digital businesses such as LinkedIn are already changing the ways that offices look in order to attract the best talent. Within my specialisation, Financial Services, some of the more traditionally conservative businesses are now following suit with Westpac's Barangaroo and Macquarie's 50 Martin Place setting the standard. A question about the office environment is normally one of the first questions I’ll get asked and it can be critical to securing the top new talent.
Work life balance
The PGG want to ‘design a life’, this includes their family, friends, hobbies and also their job - it comes as a package. As much as people may criticise the idea of flexible working let us lay it out: on Day 1 you receive a new laptop, an email, instant messenger, a cell phone and then you’re told to carry it into the office every day? It doesn’t really make sense. We are seeing flexible work arrangements such as hot desking, as well as alternative work hours being offered more and more across the market and by some of the biggest players, the ‘All Roles Flex’ policy has already been championed by Telstra, ANZ, Westpac and PwC. As such the smaller organisations will no doubt have to follow suit.
The PGG is one ‘that may upset a department's conventional practices’, however their influence could be exactly what a business requires. Conventional practices are there to be challenged, Nintendo has never had a big presence with mobile gaming and in 2014 even released an April Fools spoof video of the very game they’ve now created, it shows just how quickly things can change.
When our generation put down their phones and stop playing Pokemon Go they are arguably already changing the face of business, and over the next few years their influence will only continue to grow.