Generation Y & The Malaysian HR Mindset (Part 1)

“Generation Dumb”

“Generation Entitlement”

“Generation Flaky”

These are the actual quotes that I have heard many managers describe this interesting yet enigmatic group of workforce we call Generation Y (Gen-Y). As a trainer-consultant for the past 10 years, I would be an extremely rich man by now if I had a dollar every time someone made a snide or cynical comment about the Gen-Y workforce. It is the holy grail of the HR industry to search for the somewhat illusive methods to harness and address the conundrum which is the Gen-Y workforce.

“Each Generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors” – Jim Morrison, Front-man of the Doors

I have worked with countless Gen-Y executives from various industries and there is NO way for us to adequately put some kind of measures on how to work and harness their unique skills. Let us take a look at how hard it is to quantify them in the first place.

Generational Confusion

It is inherently hard to pin down what exactly is a Gen-Y individual and then qualify them into a meaningful spread of data to measure their effectiveness and employ-ability  Most publications and articles would place Gen-Y as born from the years mid-1980s and would have entered the workforce by the year 2007. This set of data put forward by reputable consulting firms are flawed at best because there are also a lot considerations that need to be looked at before we can even scratch the surface of the origins & inner-workings of the Gen-Y.

The country and culture where these Gen-Y executives were born into is a factor, so is their upbringing and personality make up; also which part of the Gen-Y range of dates they were born in would also give you a different set of Gen-Y attitudes and aptitudes; it would be wise for HR and management in general to be mindful NOT to lump ALL Gen-Y executives and workers into the same cooking pot less you want to “enjoy” high Gen-Y turnover rates.

The Psyche of the Gen-Y Executive

Younger 90’s born Gen-Y executives in the workforce now would best exemplify the typical Gen-Y archetype as they are more likely to have been born into an era of prosperity in their families, well-traveled and have much diverse range of education compared with their Generation X  (Gen-X) predecessors. Unfortunately, this group is the precise group that HR and management complain and gripe most about. But there is a group of Gen-Y that can help bridge the gap between Gen-Y and Gen-X, this group shows all of us NOT to place all the Gen-Y into one basket to be judged.

I am talking about the group of Gen-Y that was born in the tail-end of the 1970s (1977 – 1981) and pretty much grew up in the early 80’s but have not been spoiled by the realism and cynicism of the Gen-X group. This group would have had to struggle just as much as their older brother/uncle Gen-X when they pursued their tertiary education in the mid 90’s  but they would also be born into the early years of technology, thus making them as tech-savvy as the Gen-Y; like their Gen-Y counterparts they are very resourceful and insightful to changes in their industries but they retain the diligent yet pragmatic work attitude of the Gen-X.

It is my opinion that HR and Management attempt to harness this “confused” group to bridge the gap of animosity between the two so-called “warring” groups”. Use this hybrid Gen-Y and Gen-X executives to bring harmony by implementing “clear-lines”, meaningful, holistic management styles that would benefit the younger Gen-Y while working to keep the expectations and the work-only orientation of the Gen-X at a manageable level.

In the final part of this article, we will look at the Gen-Y situation from an Asian and Malaysian perspective and how it is not as dire as most in the industry paint it to be. We will also look at the some best practices.

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