Y So Self-entitled? Understanding Generation Y’s Attitude to the Working World

15 October, 2014

Y So Self-entitled? Understanding Generation Y’s Attitude to the Working World

15 October, 2014
Internship London
Baby Boomlets, Boomerang Generation, Age of Self Entitlement… call them what you like but by next year Generation Y, the generation born between the 1980’s and early 1990’s, will outnumber Generation X.  If that wasn’t scary enough, Generation Z will also be beginning to trickle into the workforce. Something to bear in mind when hiring graduates...

Love them or hate the there is an undeniable gap between how Generation X and Generation Y approach the working world.

The Baby Boomer generation much like Generation Y were idealistic and driven, believing in working up the ladder to reach the top by gaining as much experience as possible.   From the 70’s through to the 80’s Britain underwent a period of economic prosperity, in light of this period of plenty, Baby Boomers raised their children to believe that they could grow up to be anything they could dream of.  Thus Generation Y are characteristically ambitious. Even the global financial crisis has done little to blunt this optimism for the future of this generation.

Some have described this age group as the generation of 'self-entitlement', criticizing them for wanting it all but not being prepared to put in the work required to get it.  Some academics have even gone as far to conclude that the strong work ethic of the Generation Y’s parents and grandparents has been lost.

Pigeon holing generation Y as a self-entitled workforce is both unfair and destructive.  The perceived difference is actually the result of a difference in working styles.

What are they really like?

PwC recently published the findings of a study called Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace. Opinium Research was commissioned to carry out a survey of 4.364 graduates across 75 countries in order to gain an insight into the values and opinions which govern generation Y’s approach to the working world.

One of the most significant trends identified is that being able to work flexibly and retain a good work life balance is high on the agenda for many Generation Y’s.  Furthermore, generation Y’s affiliation to the digital world is significant, having grown up in an age of rapid technological development.  Generation Y are the first to enter the working world with a better grasp of many business tools than some of their seniors employees.

What is clear is that Generation Y want to be able to use new technology, often in ways which will allow them to work from home or other out of office environments.  This is a clear break from the traditional rigid working structures, and Generation Y expect to have this flexibility and freedom to use modern platforms in the workplace.

Generation Y also place great value on their own personal development alongside rapid career progression, two qualities which they look for in future employers.  This new emphasis on continued learning, feedback and teamwork arguably contradicts the assertion that Generation Y are not prepared to work for their success.  PwC’s study found that 65% of the students surveyed said that opportunity for personal development was the most important factor when choosing a job.  The results also suggest that often, development rewards are a stronger incentive for the younger working generation than financial.

PwC makes clear recommendations as to what these results should mean for business’; less rigid management models need to be adopted, and development incentives offered, if not you risk losing your Generation Y employees to employers who can offer this.

These are vital points to bear in mind for employee engagement and retention.

It’s not that Generation Y don’t want to work- they want to work differently, more efficiently and inventively.  Generation Y will transform the the workplace in the coming years, as the majority generation making up the workforce, their vision is to be ignored at your own risk.


Instant Impact are the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency. Looking to hire graduates? We have the best and brightest on our books and can quickly find the right fit for your small business. Get in touch and give us a ring on 0203 762 2134.

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