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I hadn’t really dedicated much time to stop and think about how youth were affected by the recession, until I got an e-mail from a magazine in Sydney, asking what I thought on the matter.
I did the research to see what others have been saying on the topic, called around some friends, and even got together with some to interview them. It turns out, most of us didn’t notice it. I reflected this feedback to my own experiences. To be perfectly honest, while speakers around the world are complaining that organisations are having to deal with budget cuts, and all the rest, they as speakers are getting a smaller fee than what they have been getting during previous years. As I’ve only started in business on my own during the recession years, they have been the best years in business of my whole life…because they were my first! Those youth who entered the workforce during the recession, entered at a time when resources were rare, and their perceived value of the work they do may be lower than it actually is…it will be interesting to see whether our Baby Boomer and Gen X employers will take advantage of this once the economy picks up in future years. Why does this sound like a contradiction to the lazy and demanding Gen Y everyone describes? Because I only described the part of Gen Y that are in their late-teens, early-twenties who entered the workforce during the recession, not before. The part of Gen Y who entered the workforce before recession struck were those demanding, ill-mannered youth giving us all a bad name.
Gen Y are the bubble wrapped generation. I hope you enjoyed playing bullrush, rugby, or pretending to be superman running around the playground in a cape, because our generation missed out on all these things while growing up. Thank you Political Correctness. What’s more, is that we’re the generation that were babied from Day One. Society set many restrictions to what we are allowed to do, so as a generation, we’ve grown up a little less witty, or able to in some ways think for ourselves. What dumb kids, huh? Not quite…if you put yourself in our position, our whole lives, we’ve been told what we are allowed and not allowed to do, so we’ve learned to act, or rather not act at all within restrictions, because if we put a foot wrong, maybe we’ll get told off! We are not the most daring of generations, as we’ve been raised to be cautious at all times to not put a foot wrong. When entering the workforce, it’s important to set out the exact rules for youth when giving them responsibility so that they are clear around the exact guidelines of what they can and can’t do. Otherwise you will find them in your office every day, asking yet another small question, wanting your guidance, practicing their rehearsed cautiousness yet again.
Although Gen Y can be viewed as a whole bunch of bad news, there is one major advantage of this generation in the world. They are technology-savvy. Although the knowledge around technology has been viewed as a downfall, where youth are dedicating their time to ‘useless’ technology activities, imagine the power youth can have when gearing all that tech-knowledge into positive actions! Do you think you could gear their knowledge into perhaps executing your Social Media Strategy? Or perhaps having them as the ‘voice of tech’ in board meetings? Although this may sound like too much responsibility, or that you’re putting in too much trust into someone who’s not ‘that experienced’, why not give it a try…firstly, you have nothing to lose, and secondly, you don’t know what you don’t know…and youth may just know it!
How much trust are you willing to put into younger generations during these post-recession times?