Generation Y Characteristics


“We are dealing with the best educated generation in history, but they have got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go” Timothy Leary

Born in the mid-1980’s and later, generation Y are a unique segment of society that have differing needs, desires and attitudes to their older peers. We are tech-savvy, focused on achieving a work/life balance yet we strive to be high achievers. We operate well in team environments and have a reputation as being attention seekers. Some call us narcissistic as a reaction to our heavy reliance on online social networking mediums; no doubt we are strong contributors to the age of instant gratification.

We have lived in fortunate times, having had the opportunity to be better educated and enjoying more privilege than our parents. We are satisfaction seekers, cutting ties quickly when we can’t find it. We have high expectations and morals and expect them to be met. We are entrepreneurial, yet community minded.

Many of us have seen the cost of being materially endowed through our parents – broken marriages, stress related illness and absentee parenting, so although we don’t reject it; we are disillusioned with the idea that money will make us happy. We are ambitious when stimulated, tend to be well travelled and are known to be quick learners.

All in all, we are fortunate, yet it is almost as though we’ve had too much choice. As though our education and access to immediate information have left us over-stimulated and slightly lost and afraid. We’ve been told we can have it all, and we have a sense of entitlement, yet many of us feel unsure of where we are going, and are prone to questioning where we are now. Employers find that we demand flexibility, question authority and are nearly impossible to retain. Statistics suggest that we will not only change jobs a multitude of times, but in fact careers – perhaps due to our mantra that we work to live, not live to work.

The quarter life crisis may indeed be a phenomenon that is much more apparent to our generation. In the past, career pathways were more clear-cut, marriage and children occurred earlier and gender roles were better defined. Some even say that we enter the quarter-life crisis because of the generational shift creating a period of ‘pro-longed adolescence’ which is attributed to making the bigger life changes later on.

Keep an eye out for next week’s article on how to overcome the quarter life crisis.