Generation Y. 'It's all about me.' Photo: iStock
Eight days into a traineeship with a top accounting firm, Peter Sheahan, then 18, was told by his manager to renumber a 350-page document using green ink. Not thrilled at the idea and seeing the document was already numbered in black ink, he asked why. He was told, “It’s just the way we do things around here.”
That was enough to make Sheahan stand up, thank his manager for the traineeship and resign.
Now 27, Sheahan is an author and consultant on workplace generational change and he’s not fazed about discussing his impetuous decision to walk out on his first employer. This is the age of the knowledge economy, where the success of business depends on the quality of the people it employs, and as Sheahan says in his book, Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving with Generation Y at Work, encouraging the best out of workers doesn’t mean spending 45 minutes explaining how the photocopiers work.
Sheahan knows what generation Yers think and what they expect, and it’s making their managers — the baby boomers and generation Xers — sit up and take note.
Last year, computer giant Apple put this sentiment in its online advertisements, directing it straight at baby boomers and generation Y. Cleverly simple, the ads feature a baby boomerish Bill Gates nerd standing next to a cool, laid-back generation Yer. The two bicker about which is better — PCs or Macs? The last ad of the campaign, ends the argument with one comment: “Let’s just stop comparing ourselves, and start being ourselves.” It’s simple and it’s advice everyone inside — and outside — the workplace should heed.
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