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Understanding Generation Y – it's not what they say, it's what they do

One of my biggest pet peeves in the Gen Y ‘market’ that I work in is reports and presentations that portray opinion as fact.

Specifically, I’m referring to characterizations about Generation Y where the data is gathered from Generation Y. For example, “Gen Y panels”, where Gen Y-ers are asked to share their opinions of themselves, or surveys that gather Gen Y opinions of themselves.

When talking about employment, I find these reports to be even more misleading – how can a Generation Y-er accurately predict what they’ll want in the workplace, when their experience in the workforce is limited (if they have any at all)?

A better method is to ask Gen Y to report on their actual experiences. And in the case of a Generation that is just starting out in the workplace, it may mean that the only real data we can use to understand their workplace behaviour is based on the way we were raised.

That being said, today’s article in The Mark, “How to Keep Young Talent in Canada” is a good read for any employer looking for the basics on Gen Y and their expectations in the workplace. Enjoy!


  1. Allison McNeely

    July 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm


    Neat post. Lately I have had a lot of mixed feelings about Gen Y, specifically about the generalizations that seem to surround our generation. I think it’s a really valid point that we should be asking Gen Y about their actual experiences, instead of speaking in general hypotheticals. Also, link is currently not working?

  2. Stephen Shedletzky

    July 13, 2010 at 7:00 am

    I agree with the overarching point here: how can you expect someone to know accurately what temperature water they like to swim in if they have never been swimming before?

    The one piece of feedback that I have encountered from bright and talented New Grads, that also comes across in this blog post, is that they want transparency. The organization demands that we be honest, authentic and transparent in our interview process (which I believe yields best personal results anyway); Gen Ys desire the reciprocal duty from the organization and its employees to be authentic and transparent about their experiences, work, and lives.

    My best,

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