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Generation Y attacks

fot. Margaux-Marguerite Duquesnoy (CC BY 2.0)
Millennials stand for huge social and economic potential. However, the time when they are expected to form the mass market is still yet to come – says Anna Dostatnia, the director of strategy in Odyseja Public Relations.

What kind of people is the Generation Y? According to the definition that has been made for the purpose of aforementioned analysis, it is over 11 million of Poles born between 1980 and 2000. They are usually divided into two smaller groups that consists of the older Poles, born between 1980-1989, and the younger ones who are not familiar with the communism in Poland.

What was previously?

There are three generation of workers in the current labour market, that are divided according to the date of birth. The oldest group, called B-B, or baby-boomers, are workers born between 1949 and 1963. They come from the post-war population boom that encountered difficulties in finding a job after the communism had fallen. According to Mariann Hardey, the doctor of economics and the lecturer of Durham University, the motto used by this generation representatives is “I work to survive”. Their most important values are independence, optimism and commitment. They value stable level of employment and most of their career they have been working with one or several employers at most, in similar positions. They expect active cooperation with their chief, common problem solving and ongoing communication. They are accustomed to the employee hierarchy which they fully embrace, efficiently working in teams at the same time.

The second generation was called generation X with people born between 1964 – 1979. Their motto is “I live to work”. As Patrycja Woszczyk describes in her book entitled “Age management – towards the growth of organization efficiency”, among the most important values of the generation X they mention personal development, independence, diversity, initiative, diligence. This group’s representatives want still and secure job in the first place, that doesn’t require taking up new challenges. The loyalty to the one employer, who puts his trust in workers, is crucial. Generation X is convinced that only hard work can provide success, that’s why they reliably fulfil their duties and are ready to submit their private life to the professional one.


How generation Y came into being?

The process is described by Jan Fazlagić, the professor of Poznań University of Economics and Business, on “The turn of the 1989 caused a scratch in generational continuity. This applies, in particular, to the people born between 1969-1972, who were adapted to the former system in their tender age, and encountered difficulties on the threshold of adulthood, as socio-economic reality was much more easy to adapt by older people. Suddenly, during the high school finals in spring 1989, it turned out that the knowledge acquired about the world and community is no longer valid. When people born after 1970 were passing their final exams in high schools, in kindergartens were children who were to start their elementary education in the 90’s – in completely different time. The new generation of population boom, called generation Y, was established during the period of openness to the influences of western countries, new technologies and different lifestyle.

Generation Y tries to stay separated from the generation that still remembers the communist system, as generation Y doesn’t share their philosophy of life and has much more optimistic outlook on life. Caution and suspicion of older people bore today’s youth who expect instant changes, even at the expense of the high risk of failure.


Many experts say about generation Y that their smartphones are the extension of their bodies. As the survey of the Odyseja Public Relations reveals, 60 per cent of people born between 1980 and 1989 cannot live without smartphones. The fact that they are capable of dealing with new technologies, unlike generation X, is a huge advantage. What is more, generation Y easily acknowledges innovations and gladly uses them. While browsing the web, they easily find needed information. It turns out, however, that they are not able to use information properly because they lack elementary knowledge. Another problem with generation Y is direct communication. They are used to communicate via chats, by sending emails or text messages. Generation Y is not prepared to communicate face to face, which is a huge disadvantage from the point of view of the employers and clients – as the report “OMG! How to speak with Polish millennials” reveals.

Average workers of generation Y have a very high self-esteem. They are convinced that after a few years of specialized studies they should be awarded an adequate job. They usually work in group, however each one is very ambitious and endeavours to stay independent of others. Their goals at work are clearly charted. They get easily committed to the projects they like and persistently realize them, while other projects are rejected or done with the possible lowest effort. The like to work in the peer group and value good relationships between workers. They readily acclimate to the new environment, including the multicultural one.

For the company owner, the person from generation Y may be a troublesome worker who doesn’t acknowledge the rules that are imposed top-down in the workplace. Such worker more easily cooperates in horizontal organizational structure – he doesn’t want to have a superior, yet he also prefers not to be in charge of anyone. He is able to take a risk, but lacks motivation not to resign in case of failure. He demands constant feedback and stimulation activities, otherwise he gets demotivated easily. Unlike generation X representatives, he is not keen on subordinating his professional life to his private one, which he values the most. He is not loyal to one employer and he may switch the position if the employment conditions are more beneficial. He is able to change his profession up to several dozen of times in order to try his hand at the new role.


Visible differences

There are some substantial differences between generation Y and the previous ones. Some of them have been already mentioned above, however let’s have a look at those pointed out by Małgorzata Baran from Collegium Civitas in Warsaw and Monika Kłos from College of Business in Piła, in the case study “Generation Y – truths and myths in the context of generation management”.


As opposed to the predecessors, generation Y is mainly focused on their competence development. They still broaden their horizons and acquire new skills that may turn out to be useful while seeking new job. Older workers are less keen on participating in trainings and underestimate acquired knowledge.

Young people are afraid of finding a job that is not compatible with their interests. They find difficult doing tasks the haven’t planned, unlike people born before 1980 who prefer working everywhere and get high remuneration than doing nothing.

Higher merits and work ethic seem to be non-essential for generation Y. The most important is the achievement of the defined objectives – and means they use during this process recede into the background. Both generations X and B-B preferred to lose some money or do the job a bit worse, than harm someone or act against commonly accepted standards.


The role of authority is also perceived in a different manner. Younger worker seek for so called transitive authorities with broad knowledge and experience only in one or a few areas, who require help of other experts in other areas. Older workers, on the other hand, represent static authorities and give the model code of conduct on every case.


In the eyes of employers

“They are straightforward” says to the Głos Szczeciński the restaurant owner, who hires 2 people from generation Y. “They are combative, in positive meaning of this word, and have no complexes. If I want to motivate them, I use different arguments. Their directness, the simplicity of thinking and goal achieving are of silly dimension. Just imagine that a couple of days ago a female representative of this generation came to me demanding a pay rise in order to take out a mortgage loan. It was difficult for me to explain that it’s her problem, not mine. That she has to seek other arguments to get a rise. I was also worried about the lack of personal reflection on: how valuable am I for my company, in what condition the company is”.


Krzysztof Wojtowicz, the manager of the Deloitte office in Szczecin, who deals with audit and legal and financial consulting, describes generation Y in positive words: “We hire a large group of young people, many of whom have just graduated from college. I haven’t experienced any bigger troubles than with other workers. Of course, each of us have worse days and cooperation is not going very well. Compared to older staff, they spend much more time in front of computers. They also switch positions more frequently, and sometimes decide to go back to the one previously occupied. They want to try everything and decide what suits them most”.


Krzysztof Andrulonis

Published: Tue, 07/06/2016 - 10:56

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