Generation Y (Millennials)

Defining Generation Y

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Generation Y (Millennials)

Defining Generation Y

Generation Y, also known as Millennials, refers to individuals born between 1980 and 2000. This cohort can be divided into two groups: the younger Millennials born between 1990 and 2000, and the older Millennials born between 1980 and 1989. Similar to Generation X, there are differences in the defined time frames for Millennials, reflecting varying rates of socio-economic changes across different countries. 

Is Generation Y the same as Millennials?

The term “Generation Y” was initially meant to symbolize generational continuity. However, the name “Millennials” became much more popular after being coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in 1991 in their book “Generations”. They proposed it as a more optimistic term that highlights a new approach to upbringing. Advertising Age first used the term “Generation Y” in 1993 to describe this cohort as a radically different version of Generation X, but later abandoned the term in 2005. In a 2012 article, Matt Carmichael emphasized that “Generation Y” was a placeholder term until more was learned about the cohort, and suggested “Millennials” as a term reflecting a distinctive era for this generation.

Other names for Generation Y

Several more specific terms relate to Generation Y, such as: “Millennials”

  • In terms of technology usage: Digital Natives, Digital Generation, Homo Sapiens Digital, Internet Generation, Cyber Kids, Google Generation, Connect 24/7, e-Generation, I-Generation, Net Generation, Wired Generation, Screenagers.
  • In terms of lifestyle attitudes: Cynical Generation, Me-Me-Me Generation, Gen Me, We Generation, Selfie Generation, Generation Next (as priorities like family, children, and stability are often postponed), The Feel-Good Generation, The Wannabes, i-Pop Generation, Identity Seekers.
  • In terms of multitasking abilities: Einstein Generation.
  • In terms of traits or direct references to predecessors: The Only Child Generation (a Chinese term highlighting birth control policies), Echo Boomers (children of Baby Boomers), Reagan Babies.

Polish sociologist Witold Wrzesień emphasizes the unique qualities of Polish members of Generation Y, referring to them as European Seekers. He describes them as individuals unburdened by the legacy of socialism, marked by Poland's accession to the European Union:

“As new European opportunities gradually increase, ranging from vacation trips, leisure, and shopping to education and work, and even temporary or permanent migration within the community rather than on completely foreign soil, these are contemporary elements for European Seekers. Although they often approach these opportunities unreflectively, they remain the first generational group among Polish youth to have such opportunities and fully utilize them.”

Another Polish term for Generation Y is “Generation JP II”, emotionally charged by the feelings many Poles naturally experienced during the pontificate, illness, and death of Pope John Paul II.

Characteristics of Generation Y

  • Millennials represent the largest group of workers in the current job market. They are more racially and ethnically diverse and better educated than their parents. More than one in ten Millennials is married to someone of a different racial or ethnic background. Additionally, they are more likely to enter into marriages with people who share their educational level.
  • A higher percentage of women than men completes higher education, resulting in an imbalanced ratio of men to women with higher education degrees.
  • Studies have proved that women are waiting longer to give birth, and many become mothers for the first time after the age of forty.
  • Millennials are significantly more likely to be single compared to older generations. For instance, nearly 80% of Scots aged 16 to 34 have never been married, compared to just one-sixth of older Scots. Over half of Millennials are not married.
  • Millennials establish their households slower than previous generations, and it is less likely that they will live with their own family at the same age as previous generations.
  • Millennials are less religious than previous generations, and when they do marry, it is less likely to be a church wedding.
  • Among social media users in the USA, 40% of Millennials have interacted with content on social platforms that focus on the need for climate change action. For comparison, this was true for 27% of Generation X users and 21% of older generations.
  • In 2019, 93% of Millennials, who were aged 23 to 38, owned smartphones, and 86% reported using social media. Nearly all Millennials now say they use the Internet, and 19% are Internet users exclusively on smartphones – that is, they own a smartphone but do not have broadband Internet service at home.

How to manage talents from Generation Y?

Research by Paul Harvey at the University of New Hampshire suggests that Generation Y members are more entitled than older workers. This presents a challenge for employers tasked with managing individuals who frequently expect special treatment, often without justification. They are also more prone to workplace conflicts and less satisfied with their jobs. What should employers pay special attention to?

  • Professional development and education. According to the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, Millennials are not particularly loyal to one employer, frequently changing jobs. They tend to focus more on development than on stability. To meet their need for continuous development, employers should offer an interesting range of training (workshops, online courses) and advancement opportunities.
  • Work-life balance. For Millennials, stable employment is not a special privilege, and they expect a lot of freedom and flexibility from their employers. Work should provide them with means to enjoy leisure time, not be an end in itself. Flexible schedules, the possibility of remote work, and extra days off will motivate them to work effectively.
  • Open communication and a positive organizational atmosphere. Millennials value the social significance of their work. The values presented by a company and the opportunity to co-create its culture are also important. Employers can leverage the digital skills of this generation and implement reverse mentoring programs. Engaged Millennials will share their digital and social media skills, while more experienced employees share their organizational knowledge.
  • Recognition of achievements and contributions. Millennials seek feedback and support from peers and mentors. They are also more likely to “stretch” tasks. Support from supervisors, recognition of achievements, and rewards for good work will increase Millennials' engagement, and regular feedback will strengthen their commitment.
  • Technology and modern work tools. The digital competencies of Millennials and their ability to use data for business decisions can enhance digital skills across the organization. To ensure that employees of this generation work as efficiently as possible, employers should provide them with modern tools that automate work.
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