Parenting and Generation Y


I never doubted my parents loved me, although I don’t remember them ever telling me. It was a generation where emotions and affection were not as openly expressed between parent and child. Yet while I received loving care from my parents, I was left in no doubt that I was expected to show respect and obey the direction given me or face the consequences that came with their discipline.

Fast forward a generation and parenting has changed. Respect, direction and discipline, while still important have largely taken a backseat to an emphasis on  nurture, encouragement and friendship. While not all change is bad, different emphases in parenting produces different results and so young people currently entering the workforce do so with assumptions and expectations that can take their employer by surprise.

The first thing to note is their sense of self-belief. They have been bought up in a world where no one loses, everyone gets a prize and they are able to achieve whatever they set their mind to. Consequently they enter the workforce with the expectation that they have a contribution to make and that their ideas will be listened to and appreciated, leading to a promotion that is deservedly just around the corner.

Secondly, Generation Y have come into the workforce with a need to feel valued. They want to know that their manager appreciates them, believes in them, and is committed to helping them achieve. As such they expect regular feedback and will thrive when it is good while struggling to accept even mild constructive criticism

Thirdly, a more casual relationship with parents, friends of parents and teachers sees them enter the workforce without the same sense of respect (fear?) of their boss which previous generations may have had. They are less afraid to challenge authority, express their opinions and disagree openly. If they are dissatisfied with their supervisor they are more likely to appeal their case to their supervisor’s boss. In their mind respect is something to be earned, not something accorded through hierarchy or position.

Finally they enter the workforce with a more ego-centric mindset. In previous generations it was understood that the worker was there to make the company successful. Gen Y has flipped this on its head and expects the company to make them successful! As such they have a tendency consider employment issues from a “what’s best for me and my life” perspective.


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