News and Views

Word on the street is that some sectors of the workforce and society-at-large are confused about the differences between Gen-X and Gen-Y.  The similarities are that they are younger than Baby-Boomers, have different perspectives about work and have a broader appreciation of technology in comparison with their older counterparts.  However, the groups are very different in their motivations, values, and experiences which needs to be made clear.  Here is a rough guide:

X-ers are those in their mid-30’s to late 40’s (sometimes a bit older), generally well-educated, well-travelled, conscientious and diligent at work, with a no-nonsense perspective in life.  They are adaptable to changing technology and are often change-agents in a business.  Your boss is likely to be from Generation X, so named for its enigmatic or indefinable attributes.

Generation Y, however, so named because it comes after X (read: equally indefinable) have ridden the X-ers coat-tails.  These are the much younger siblings who’ve grown up with technology and the belief that it was always there.  When Nirvana wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, they were X-ers writing about the next generation who ‘are here now: entertain us.’  While Y’s have their attributes, there is an undeniable quality pervading their culture which reflects their having grown up in affluence: constant access to technology, media communication, short-cuts, and a more disposable way of life than all other previous generations.

In the workplace Gen-Y’s are likely to be in regular communication with friends and colleagues while on the phone or in meetings; they will look for short-cuts to execute a task usually by employing some application of a technology with which they are familiar.  This method may not be company approved, nor replicable by other staff, and may cut across other aspects of operation.

Gen-X will be those reviewing the tasks completed and explaining all the ways in which near enough is not good enough and the benefits of learning operations from first principles.  They know this, because they have assimilated all the old ways and adapted the new.  Gen-X are old before their time: they grew up in recession, graduated around a stock market crash, and earned degrees because there were no jobs to go to.  Gen-X have paved a high-way for Gen-Y to travel indiscriminantly, earn and spend at will, and enjoy (financial) freedoms to which they, themselves, had no access.

If you’re a Boomer and a little confused about who is who, ask yourself: which of these kids behave more like my parents (that’s X), and which do I relate to more (that’s Y)?