Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Workers? – by Ed Ng

Photo: Victor1558, Creative Commons 2.0

Photo: Victor1558, Creative Commons 2.0

As the post-war baby boomers near retirement, a new generation with its own set of expectations, demands and work habits is entering the global workforce.

In his new book ‘Managing The New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation‘, Ed Ng, along with his co-authors, examines this ‘Baby Boom Echo generation’ from a variety of cultural perspectives, revealing some very interesting results.

The end of World War II brought on a population boom in many countries around the world.  Almost seventy years later, this large cohort of baby boomers is retiring, and a new cadre of younger workers are standing by to replace them.  In North America, Baby Boomers are those born between 1945 and 1964, “Generation X” are those born between 1965 and 1979, and “Millennials” are those born between 1980 and 1994.  Various authors have also referred to Millennials as Generation Y, Baby Boom Echo, Nexters, and the Nexus Generation.  Although definitions of specific generations may vary across different countries and cultures, there is awareness that the Millennials are a unique generation, having beliefs, values, and attitudes different from those of previous generations.  This generation has grown up in an era characterized by globalization, rapid technological advancement, and increasing diversity.  The Millennials have been reported as ambitious, wanting a good life, and having high expectations for themselves.  This combination of factors has created significant challenges for organizations and employers as they strive to recruit and retain the younger generation of workers.

These early thirty year-olds represent the workforce of the future and come with their own set of expectations, demands, and work habits.  In North America, for instance, the Millennials have been reported to have high expectations for salaries and rapid promotions.  They also have less patience with climbing the corporate ladder, they are purported to be disloyal and rebellious, and organizations should not expect them to stay long in their current jobs.  They also become bored extremely quickly and are likely to have many career paths.  Furthermore, Millennials have also been raised with increased self-esteem and are not afraid to ‘speak up’ and ‘ask questions.’  Consequently, they are also more likely to negotiate the terms under which they work, and to demand work/life balance at every stage of their careers.  If they are to contribute to and eventually replace the current workforce, organizations will need to take note of their values, beliefs and behaviors. scholars have been paying increasing attention to the Millennial generation, research on this important cohort of workers has been limited to North America.  Furthermore, the construct of “generations” has been criticized as fuzzy and imprecise, and critics have called for a greater precision in the definition of the generation construct and to disentangle the confluent effects of age, period, and cohort.  Thus, the purpose of this book is to meaningfully examine the idea of a global youth generation through a collection of research studies conducted in different national settings and across different countries.  It documents the generational phenomenon from a wide variety of cultural perspectives and through a variety of research foci.

What appears to be most fascinating about the Millennial generation is the ubiquity of their supposed values across the globe.  While there is much cross-cultural difference within the Millennial generation, there is convincing evidence of a youth generation that shares in common a substantive gap between it and previous generations.  Although the gap is manifested differently within the social and historical contexts of various cultures, there is a common theme of disruption and discontinuity in the perceptions of working people around the world.  As employers strive to attract and hire the new generation of workers, it is more important than ever for them to understand the values, attitudes, and expectations of the Millennial generation.  Afterall, given the demographics shift, it will be the Millennials who will be selecting which organizations they want to work for.

Managing The New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation is part of a generational research project that examines shifting career expectations, experiences, attitudes and values, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Ed NgEd Ng is an Associate Professor of Management in the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University, Canada.

His co-authors are Sean Lyons, an Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour in the College of Management and Economics at the University of Guelph, Canada, and Linda Schweitzer, who is an Associate Professor of Management and Strategy in the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, Canada.

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One Comment on “Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Workers? – by Ed Ng”

  1. Grif Jones Says:

    It doesn’t seem that most corporations are adapting to attract Gen Y workers, however. Most corporations are asking more hours from their workers at the same or less pay. As a rule, Gen Y workers are more protective of their work life balance. If possible, prospective Generation Y employees are better off working for themselves or forming start-ups. This will place more pressure on larger businesses to adapt.


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