GUEST COMMENT: Yes - Generation Y can seem annoying, but it need not be terminal

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"Generation Y", the so-called 'Net Generation', born between the early 1980s and late 1990s are now joining the financial world's workforce and mixing with more experienced bankers who have a very different perspective on work ethic and career goals.

All change can be challenging, but we have been here before (think the arrival of yuppies in the '80s). What's required is understanding and adaption.

Persistent questioning

Generation Y individuals have been brought up to ask questions. They are independent thinkers. They will challenge existing protocols and will continually look to do things in a better, smarter, more efficient way. Their intention is not to disrespect, merely to seek improvement and change.

This clashes with the banking meritocracy structured around a defined hierarchy. There's a view that passage needs to be earned - if you're good enough and you've done your time, you can proceed to the next level. Generation Y need to learn to pick their battles, not question every decision or process. Established bankers need to learn not to take all the questioning too personally.

Neediness and praise

This generation of "Trophy Kids" are also accused of being needy and requiring constant positive feedback. Having grown up in a culture of education focused on reducing the sentiment of losing and reinforcing the positives rather than providing constructive criticism of weaknesses, they require reassurance and continual feedback. This feedback does not need to be formal; a quick five minute chat, a brief drink after work, or even just taking time to listen to their wants will suffice.

The feedback process can also be used to manage their desires. There's a perception that Generation Y have unrealistic aspirations: they want to skip the more mundane roles and go straight to high level analysis. There's nothing wrong with this; the challenge is to manage it. Explain the reason and opportunity behind the tasks they are asked to complete. If they understand the value of the work they are doing, they will be more motivated and more engaged.

Money's not enough

Generation Y may be some of the most talented new recruits we have seen in several generations. Increasing pressures at a young age, coupled with the current financial climate, have pushed them to develop multiple interests and extracurricular activities. Many have done numerous internships and achieved top grades.

These qualities and their inherent self-belief make them incredibly mobile. If they aren't stimulated they will move on.

Improving rewards will help retention, but money isn't the overriding consideration for Generation Y. They're more interested in work life balance, and feeling valued, invested in and developed. Offer training. And think along the lines of offering the opportunity to purchase additional holidays, take short term sabbaticals or work from home.

Generation Y are here to stay. They are at home with new technologies and will change the face of the banking industry as we know it. It's no good dismissing their enthusiasm - it needs to be channelled and directed. This is the role of managers seeking to broach the generational divide.

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