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Coworkers

Corporate Culture vs. Generation Y

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Coworking is a result of a shift in new expectations for the workplace. But why is this happening? In the past, corporate companies were attractive because they offered their employees a sense of security (whether real or perceived). Employees began working with the hope for upward mobility within the company, ultimately building life-long relationships with their employers. However, most young professionals, or endearingly named “job hoppers”, would agree that even two years with one company seems like a lengthy tenure. Although there are many reasons to spur on this shift in mentality, its time to look back at what has now become irrelevant in corporate culture.

Many forces have encouraged the move from traditional, corporate mindsets to more flexible, collaborative workplaces. To start with, the boom in mobile technology grants workers 24/7 access with the ability to work remotely.

In addition, the recent economic downturn has seen the rise in unpaid internships with fewer full-time jobs available, and more unemployed professionals discovering alternative work opportunities.

Another important force has been traditional businesses’ inability to evolve and incorporate the values of a new generation of workers. It is reaching a critical moment where companies must begin to review and reformat if they want to continue being successful.

Introducing the “Millennials”

This global generation is 375 million strong and by 2025 will make up 75% of the workforce. It has become clear that the needs of Generation Y, aka the Millennials, and that of the workplace are out of sync. “The Next Talent Frontier” by Kelly Services, forecasts that this generation will be the one to drive real change in the workplace. For them, the line between work and life has become blurred with the rise of mobile technology.

Although, they are the first generation willing to work outside offers hours, they expect the workplace to be not solely about work, but also about social interaction and shared learning. 

An article in Forbes recognizes that, “this new generation of employee not only thrives in highly collaborative workplaces, but is now making this a key requirement in selecting where to work”.

Throwing out rigid ways

One company, which emerged in the early 2000’s, proved that you could run a highly successful business with an innovative, employee-centric company culture. Google, with its free massages and office go-carts, firmly believes that the workplace should provide support and facilities for their employees so that they can enjoy being at work and ultimately, perform better.

Today, start-ups and young companies are following a similar philosophy. It is not uncommon to hear of job listings enticing job seekers with flexible hours and after work drinks. However, beyond the perks and pay-offs, it all boils down to the people. Companies, who place their people at the center, will reap the benefits of Generation Y employees performing better and who will eventually go on to become brand ambassadors.

After comparing various work cultures and formats, there were several tactics that stood out as increasingly irrelevant, especially with the emergence of Gen Yer’s. Below is a list of tactics that should be scratched from strategic planning for 2013 as they are not longer suited to the new generation of workers. 

The ‘top-down’ approach

This format simply does not work any more. Young professionals entering the workforce are more educated than ever and this empowers them to question authority. “They've grown up questioning their parents, and now they're questioning their employers,” comments professor Jordan Kaplan in an article in USA Today. They are also “much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management”.

This generation of workers wants to feel they can participate and influence the direction of their company. Managers who create a participatory environment where employees are encouraged to take initiative, to collaborate with their colleagues and innovate, will be more successful. 

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