Moment of youth for firms' survival
Bosses must adapt work styles to fit the young generation if they are going to cope with a shrinking workforce, says management expert
The young generation of workers describe themselves as lazy and self-centred, but companies need to adapt to suit this new workforce rather than the other way round if they want to survive, a business expert said yesterday.
As the population ages and the workforce shrinks, bosses and senior management will ironically need to run things in a more relaxed way to keep their competitive edge, said Virginia Choi, managing consultant of Tamty McGill Consultants International, following its survey of 800 workers born since 1981.
"They are our workforce. You just have no choice," Choi said.
The survey interviewed about 700 people born between 1981 and 1994, the so-called Generation Y. Another 100 people, born after 1994 - Generation Z - were also interviewed, along with 634 employers.
Only about 200 of the Generation Ys were working. Others were studying or unemployed. All the Generation Zs interviewed were studying.
In a self-evaluation exercise, more often than not the Generation Ys described themselves as "creative", "lazy", "self-centred" and desiring "freedom".
Most believed it was vital to have the opportunity to "participate in decision making" and to get an "instant response" from colleagues during discussions rather than have them get back later with answers.
The type of mentors they enjoyed working with most were "supportive" superiors who could offer help when they needed it but refrained from giving direct orders.
The employers interviewed believed flexible working hours and freedom at work were most important to their workers.
Choi said the survey showed a need for employers to get to know the younger generation.
"From the first day at kindergarten, they receive a warm welcome from the teachers and get rewards all along for things they accomplish. When they go to primary school, some of them are given a choice not to wear uniforms … they are just used to this system," she said.
"Due to the ageing population, we will need Generation Y to take over. In recent years, employers have already realised the need to understand them and their values," Choi added.