For Gen Y, achievement is extremely important, for professional and social environment alike
Gen Y values meaningful and challenging work, and have no qualms in working for comparatively less pay provided other motivational factors remain constant
The increasing number of millennial (Gen Y) in the workforce calls for an interesting insight into their career aspirations, and their extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. At the same time, it is worthwhile trying to understand whether or not there exists any difference in terms of aspirations, motivations et al amongst the Gen Y workforce based on geography, gender, work experience and industry. In light of the challenges and opportunities that the new workforce bring to the workplace, it is important to analyze whether the challenges posed by Gen Y outweigh the opportunities they present or are they creating both challenges and opportunities at the workplace?
Career aspirations of Indian Gen Y professionals
The research sheds light on the aspiration of the new workforce. Interestingly, the Indian Gen Y professionals aspire for high dedication to social cause and they have a strong desire to climb the corporate general management ladder and have a strong need to be associated with a firm or occupation, which externally or visibly enhances or substitutes for self-definition. The new workforce showcases an innate desire to build, create, invent or produce something of their own, and are driven by the need to demonstrate self-extension through their work. If allowed, they display positive energy and if curtailed, they lookout for those organizations that provide a work environment, which will help them excel, and are even open to the idea of starting with new careers they are passionate about, at any point in their life/career stage. The definition of loyalty has changed and Gen Y is loyal to their jobs and not necessarily to their organizations. Further, career progression is at the core of Gen Y and they treat it as the means to an end.
They desire for a project management approach towards work assignments, which accelerates their learning. The new workforce wants handholding till the time they are very clear of the processes and what is expected out of them, however, handholding for them is equivalent to guidance or leading by their boss/leader, and not managing or micromanaging. They understand that there is stiff competition and it is the pressure to compete within their peer group, which motivates them to be offbeat and create their own identity and space. They believe in proving themselves and working ‘NOW’.
When compared to Gen Y male professionals, the Gen Y female professionals highly aspire to have geographical stability, empowerment and training programs, that hone their technical or functional competencies. On the contrary, the Gen Y males highly aspire to have stability in job and high managerial competencies. However, both genders give equal importance to creativity and challenging work assignments. Interestingly, the Gen Yers from the manufacturing sector aspire more for creativity at work, employer and self brand identity, managerial competence, job stability and involvement in CSR activities, than their counterparts from the service sector, who aspire for technical competence, challenges, autonomy and independence at work, and geographical stability. The research also points out that the career aspirations of Gen Yers from the Southern parts of India are comparatively higher than those from the North, West and East zone.
Motivation of Gen Y
The Gen Y professionals are motivated when there are sound company policies and practices, a considerate and sympathetic supervisor, restricted hours of work that successfully integrates work and life needs, responsibility and independence, equitable pay and achievement at their workplace. Extrinsic motivation factors comparatively are more important than the intrinsic motivation factors. Interestingly, a considerate and sympathetic supervisor is preferred more than a technical competent supervisor. Gen Y professionals respect and like to work with a technically competent boss, who walks-the-talk. They are individualistic in nature and therefore, desire customization of policies and practices. A workplace that creates a sense of belongingness within the corporate culture and extends the feeling to the family members, is appreciated and accepted by the new workforce.
Geographical segmentation of the Gen Y workforce reveals that Gen Yers from the Eastern parts of India are highly motivated by intrinsic factors, such as equitable pay, achievement, autonomy and independence, and recognition. On the contrary, advancement and interesting work does not motivate them much. Interestingly, the Gen Yers working in the Northern parts of India, specifically, the NCR region, are not so demanding for comfortable working conditions, sound HR policies, competent supervisor, equitable pay, adequate earnings and fringe benefits. Also, Gen Yers from the service sector are motivated by sound company policies and practices, considerate supervisors and fringe benefits more than their counterparts from the manufacturing sector, who are highly motivated when they have competent supervisors.
Value preference of Gen Y
They are the ‘now’ generation, who are demanding and value what they are paid ‘now’. They are influenced by their peers and family to accumulate wealth fast and ‘now’. At the same time, their orientation to achievement is much higher than their orientation to money. Achievement is extremely important not only in their professional environment, but also in the social environment to which they belong. L&D programs and getting hands-on experience in their area of interest, motivates them. This is so, because upgrading their own competencies is important for them to create a niche for themselves in the job market. Going abroad for training and getting certification, adds charm to the list of their achievements.
It is also interesting to note that Gen Y highly values meaningful and challenging work and therefore, they have no qualms in working for such a job, with comparatively less pay package, provided other motivational factors remain constant. The research highlights the point that the Gen Yers from the Southern and Western parts of India are highly achievement-oriented as well as value money more as compared to other zones. The Eastern zoners are highly immersed in their job roles. In terms of industry segmentation, the Gen Yers from the service sector value achievement and money much more than their counterparts from the manufacturing sector, who are highly immersed in their roles.
Leveraging diverse generational talents, integrating multiple perspectives and diametric motivations, making diversity at workplace blend and work, and catering to groups in the context of socio-cultural and economic background, are a few of the challenges that an organization is confronted with, when dealing with the new workforce. For instance, the Gen X managers from the manufacturing sector face the dichotomy between persuading the Gen Y to locate to a remote location and persuading the management to invest on bringing some urban-like environment to remote job locations. At the same time, given the economic uncertainty, it becomes all the more challenging to create a job, which allows the Gen Y to grin, grow, move and stick for maximum 5 years in the organization. Managing Gen Yers’ expectations and channelizing their energy is a challenge that needs to be addressed. While social media is useful for recruitment and monitoring for organizations, the absence of permission to access social media websites are despised by the Gen Yers. Going forward, organizations will emphasize on building unique EVP, however, if they fail to live up to the brand promise, the challenge for them will be in attracting, leading, engaging and retaining the Gen Yers. Till the time they are ‘happy’ in an organization, they will give their best, but even one ‘bad instance’ will exert their motive to shift the organization.
While challenges are in place, the fact remains that the Gen Y in India is ambitious, optimistic, embraces change, celebrates diversity and has a clear sense of where it is headed. Organizations can do well to leverage Gen Yers’ social and technology skills in the workplace. For instance, some organizations are using ‘reverse mentoring’ to get Gen Yers to help senior executives to learn social networking and other communication technology. There is little doubt, however, that organizations that embrace the challenges will be in a better position to benefit from the skills and high potential of the Gen Yers.
Rajesh Kamath is Regional Head - Bengaluru and Principal Consultant in Learning & Development at Cerebrus Consultants. Rajesh is the Co-founder of MTHR Global. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prarthana Alley is an Associate Consultant with Cerebrus Consultants. She managed the Gen Y Research when she working with The Academy of HRD.
She can be reached at email@example.com