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Generation Y

Are You Prepared To Make Gen Y An Offer It Can't Refuse?

Think back to when you landed your first “real” job. What was it about the job that made it so appealing? What is the ability to work in your chosen field? The fact that you had final “made it” as a grown up? Was your salary a factor in what made you happy or pushed you to accept the job?

Think back to when you landed your first “real” job. What was it about the job that made it so appealing? What is the ability to work in your chosen field? The fact that you had final “made it” as a grown up? Was your salary a factor in what made you happy or pushed you to accept the job?

If you are a Boomer or a Gen Xer, I bet the money part had a lot to do with it.

Thing is, the future leaders in business–Gen Y–don’t care as much about the money factor. While we’re all singing “Show me the money,” they’re asking, “What does this mean for the greater good?” and “Am I free to visit Facebook while I’m here?”

The Cisco Connected World Report (which surveyed 2,800 college students and young professionals under the age of 30) recently stated that one in three said he/she would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer. Are you prepared to make those offers?


For Boomers and even myself as an Xer, it was more common (and still is more common) to be defined by your work. “Oh, he’s a doctor.” or “She just made partner at the law firm,” are viewed as huge kudos.

Generation Y doesn’t care about labels. They do not want to be defined by a position, by their job. In fact, 64% of Millennials don’t even list their place of employment on their Facebook profiles (yet they average 16 colleagues as “friends” on the same site).

Just because you recruit for titles with “manager” or “executive” int he title doesn’t mean you’re going to win the hearts of this new generation of leaders. Titles don’t dress up the job–what’s behind it does. Companies must be prepared to show the goods instead of luring prospects in with shiny titles.


Thinking that bump in pay will make up for long working weekends and a small vacation package? Think again. Remember, it’s not about the money.

The average Millennial will jump ship every two years looking for a job that is better. And what they define as “better” may not be what you’re thinking.

Gen Y wants to be assured you can offer flexibility with their work schedule. They want ample vacation time and the ability to work remotely. Oh, and they also want to be given free reign to check Facebook, send texts and communicate freely during the day over their social media channels.

Gen Y also has an unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, “owner” is the fifth most popular job title for Gen-Y, according to Millennial Branding. If, as a company, you allow your young, future leaders to operate within this entrepreneurial spirit you’ll foster loyalty and growth for your employees and your organization. Give them latitude to control their time, to take part in meaningful activities.

Before you start the interview process, make sure you know your policies and have your answers established. There is nothing worse than hearing “that’s definitely something we can consider/talk about once you’re on board,” when interviewees ask a pointed question. Gen Y will call you on any kind of bait and switch, so don’t play that game. In fact, 64% of college students asks about social media usage policies during job interviews and approximately 24% says it would be a key factor in accepting (or not accepting) the offer. Know where you stand. Know what they expect.


The next time you draw up that job offer or the job description you’re about to post online, think about this: Do the benefits you list ring true to the type of leaders you want (scratch that, you need) in your organization mesh with what those same future leaders are looking for?

Don’t make it an uphill battle. Understand the importance of developing your future leaders now and offer them incentives for being a part of the team. Make it about them and show you care; maybe then they’ll stick with you past that two-year mark.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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