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Matching Expectations 1

Unlike other generations, youth have grown up receiving constant feedback and encouragement which has fostered high performance and high maintenance personalities. Youth often have the following expectations from their workplace:

  • High expectation of self – Young people strive to work faster and better than other workers.
  • High expectations of employers – Young workers want fair and direct managers who are involved in professional development.
  • Ongoing learning – Young workers seek creative challenges and view co-workers as resources from whom to gain knowledge.
  • Immediate responsibility – Youth want to make important decisions early on.
  • Goal oriented – Youth want small goals with tight deadlines so they can build up ownership of tasks.

Net Generation

Youth think, communicate and work together very differently than older generations. They are often called Generation Y or the “net generation.” Here are some things that you need to know about the Net Generation:

The Top Things You Need to Know about Generation Y or The Net Generation

1. The best place to meet them is face-to-Facebook.

In September 2006, there were 8.9 million users of Facebook around the world. Now there are over 175 million active users. In Canada, Facebook dominates all other social networking sites, with 63% of Canadians being registered Facebook users, and 83% of them are the 18-34 demographic. Atlantic Canadian numbers far exceed the Canadian average at an incredible 75% of the total population.

(Source: Gardiner Centre, Netpop Research 2009)

2. Blogs are their news.

Nearly 80% of Net Geners under 28 regularly visit blogs, which is the most popular way to create and share information. 22 of the most popular websites in the world are actually blogs, and those blog readers average 23 hours online a week. Net Geners are producers of their own news. (Gardiner Centre, Netpop Research 2009)

3. The Net Generation wants their work life to fit their lifestyle, not the other way around.

Quality of life means something different for this target, because it includes an inherent need for their work lives to be flexible. A 9-to-5 schedule is not necessarily desired. Most would like to be judged on performance and results first, and face time in the office second.

4. They’re collaborative before competitive.

Today’s workforce looks at the workplace very differently than their parents. The nature of their communication tools has afforded them opportunities for instant interaction, discussion and feedback. Our younger generation therefore sees work as a collaboration with colleagues - relationship-based and more dynamic in approach than just adhering to old structures and hierarchies.

5. Having freedom of choice is not only important but necessary.

There are millions of choices before this generation all the time, and everyone wants their attention. But when this generation knows exactly what they’re seeking amongst all the clutter and choice, they’ll do their homework. There are always other options.

6. Their voices will be heard.

Online forums, message boards, blogs, product reviews, article comments. These are all mini-soapboxes to give everyone a voice, and there’s always an opinion to hear. If the Net Generation has opinions, rest assured, they’ll let you know what they are.

7. They are digital wizards.

The technologies available and readily used by this generation are tools to connect, invent, create and share.

8. They seek out similar interests and viewpoints, and unite around them.

Community is at the heart of what online interaction affords this generation, and the like minds will seek each other out and come together.

9. They may actually be the smartest generation ever.

Knowledge truly is power for today’s youth, and they pride themselves on being informed. The Internet is the library they carry with them at all times now, and if they don’t know the answer, they know how to find it. (Tapscott, Don. Growing Up Digital, 2009)

10. Customization is identity.

Everything The Net Generation does is unique to them and their personal tastes - different cell phone rings for each of their friends, iPod cases, My Space profiles. Similarly, they customize the streams of information that they’re interested in, signing up for newsletters or text blasts, or subscribing to RSS feeds from preferred news sources.

11. They require innovation as a part of their daily lives.

This generation is the constant creator of evolving web content. This group craves updates, newness, and the next best thing. Information that is outdated or stale is simply dismissed, so getting their attention requires being bold and innovative, and needs to evolve to be meaningful for them.

12. Speed is key.

The digital generation would probably communicate telepathically if they could. Everything is instant to them. The Net Generation doesn’t have to wait to check their email when they can get back to their computer - that is, unless they forgot their phone. Of all NetGeners, 74% own a cell phone, the most powerful technology of all because it’s becoming everything at once, and it’s their main conduit to the world. (Tapscott, Don. Growing Up Digital, 2009)

Adapted from market research carried out for HRLE by The Idea Factory.

1 Source: Stephanie Armour, USA Today