Generation Y and the New Work Ethic

If you are a colleague trying to understand your multi-generational co-workers, a front line manager trying to get your youngest workers to show up and show up on time, or are a member of Generation Y and looking for ways to maximize your effectiveness and success in the workplace, this post is for you. Jeanne Martinson gets to the heart of the generational differences issue, with minimal psychobabble and statistical navel gazing, giving you concrete information about the different generations with a focus on work ethic and the motivations and values of Generation Y.

A little understanding goes a long way to improve both relationships and your sanity!  You can listen to the podcast here with Jeanne, author of Generation Y and the New Work Ethic.

Enjoy her guest post, as well…

Every generation has rebelled against the norms of the generation preceding it. This rebellion manifests itself externally in clothes, hairstyles, temporary and permanent markings and maskings. As time passes, often these visual distinctions are toned down or abandoned as that generation ages and begins to fit into mainstream work worlds, eventually falling for the tie and pantyhose cultural norms of the workplace. Many of today’s Generation Y cohort members may yet desert their desire for flip-flops and casual attitudes as they progress in their careers and organizations.

Managers ask frequently “When will Gen Ys will grow up, quit rebelling and get with the program?” Unfortunately for managers and co-workers everywhere, there is more to generational difference than rebellion and a desire to be different from the previous generation.  Our generational identity is also about the beliefs and values that were developed in our growing up years. By the time we hatch into the workforce, our perspectives of others, work and the world are well formed.

So why are we talking about generational differences now more so than in the past?  Why has this last generation upset the apple cart so significantly?  Because it is the perfect storm!

This storm of generational conflict in the workplace is due to two unique factors:

First, we now have four distinct generational groups in the workplace. Thanks to interrupted plans for retirement due to the 2008 economic downturn, a genuine enjoyment of the work they are engaged in and an anticipation of a longer life span, members of our oldest generation find themselves still in the workplace. At the same time, the Baby Boomers are mid-career to closing in on retirement and are primarily occupying the positions of power in our organizations. Due to advanced health care providing expectations of a long and healthy life, and meaningful work to occupy themselves with, Baby Boomers may be finding the workplace more attractive and will possibly push back retirement plans. Gen Xs, in their early 30s to late 40s are waiting impatiently for better career opportunities to materialize, while Generation Y is close on Generation X’s heels, bursting into the workforce with their enthusiasm and expectations of a brave new world.

Secondly, Gen Ys came into the workforce at the end of the analog to digital shift. This is highly significant as Gen Ys are the first generation to see digital technology as normal, both in their work and personal life.

These two factors have collided to place employees from different generations in heightened conflict with each other. In the workplace, these different generations are now judging each other as having good or poor work ethic, commitment and loyalty to the organization.

Jeanne Martinson is a best-selling Canadian author on the topics of diversity and leadership. She holds a diploma in Organizational Behaviour from Heriot Watt University in the UK as well as a graduate degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University in BC. Find out more at


Best Steph  🙂


Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at * Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.


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