Last week during our weekly LEAH seminar, we briefly discussed the anecdotal differences between what Gen X and Gen Y (1980’s-1990’s babies) value in their careers.
As many of you may know, I worked in finance prior to starting graduate school (read more here to get caught up!) When I left the finance field, I knew I was also giving up a faster and more direct route to a higher paying salary. I was sacrificing two years of pay, benefits, and retirement investments to go into debt. From a purely numbers and figures standpoint, I was not making a ‘smart’ decision.
The missing piece to that equation is the value of what I would gain as a person, professional, friend, daughter, woman, sister…a life that I adored, in a profession that filled my soul with gratitude and love.
While most of my friends understood my motivation to switch careers, I sensed hesitation from others. However, as I transition into my new career, I’m learning that I am not alone in my desire to give back – do more – and feel fulfilled by my work contributions. Because the majority of my readers are Gen Yers, I think we can all relate to the points outlined below.
In the YouTube video by the Harvard Business Review, ‘What Motivates Gen Y and Boomer Talent,’ Sylvia Ann Hewlett describes the five non-monetary incentives that drive Generation Y to a particular workplace or environment.
crave a range of new experiences
love the idea of having a global assignment
interested in spreading their wings and searching for meaning
02. rich form of flexibility
control over when, where, and how work gets done
i.e. telecommuting hours, flexible work hours on Fridays
03. meaning, purpose, and challenge to work
love being pushed into assignments that stretch their thinking
04. diverse teams
work diversely with a range of colleagues
05. need for a measure of altruism in their work
want employers to get involved in allowing employees to give back
Gen X vs. Gen Y
Gen X is 23% more likely to see compensation as their main driver (1). This may be due in part to the responsibilities that Gen X have (kids, mortgages, etc.) in comparison to Gen Y, but I think it’s representative of an important shift in our workplace culture and priorities.
What we can learn from Generation Y
By 2020, Gen Y will make up 40% of the working population and much can be learned from our generation! Studies show that (1):
- 64% say it’s a priority to make the world a better place
- 72% want to be their own boss
- 79% want their boss to serve more as a coach or mentor
- 88% prefer a collaborative environment
- 74% want flexible work schedules
“Gen Y want to invest in a place where they can make a difference; specifically in a place that itself makes a difference.”
Personally, I can relate to all of the points listed above and to be honest, I exhaled a sigh of relief last Friday when I realized that I wasn’t alone in my motivation to seek purpose and fulfillment from my career.
- Can you relate to any of these points?
- Gen Y folks – how did you handle pushback from other generations regarding our (not so positive) reputation in the workplace?