Generation Y and the Recession

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The recession seems to be the only thing on media minds right now.
We have been doing some research and talked to many organisations and individuals about this over the last few months.
We have found that the credit crunch has certainly had an impact in that Gen Y are more cautious about moving unless they have something else lined up.
But our clients are also saying that good people always have choices - even in a recession - and that good people are still moving jobs being, if anything, even more in demand.
Because employers have more choice of good people right now the bar is being raised - but it means that the best people still have opportunities.
One of our clients told me recently that whilst six months ago they were worrying about how to retain Gen Y, they are now thinking about a couple of other issues.
Firstly, how to keep them engaged in these pressurised times - and make sure they feel good about the organisation so they don't leave when the recession is over.
Secondly, remembering that Gen Y are the best chance they have of making sure they understand and respond to their consumers - as Gen Y are the natives of the digital world whilst the rest of us are mere immigrants.
Gen X and Boomers are running companies but they need to exploit the knowledge and wisdom of Gen Y even more to make sure they respond to the changing needs of their younger consumers and stay competitive.
In terms of redundancy fears, our observations are that Gen Ys are less worried for several reasons.
They are used to debt because of their student loans, they don't have mortgages so are free to travel or do something else until times get better and, finally, they are inherently more optimistic - perhaps because they've not been through a recession.
That optimism may be thought to be misguided by some but, as Henry Ford said: "If you think you can or think you can't, either way you are probably right.
" So, to predict exactly how Gen Y will behave is not easy but, just as during the 'good times' a few years ago when Gen X and the Baby Boomers behaved in a different way to Gen Y in the same economic conditions (due to different generational preferences), Gen Y WILL certainly change in reaction to the downturn.
And, whilst their overall values will not change, their behaviour, in the short term, may well.
Here's what one Gen Y told me: "Generation Y's expectations are inherently different to the other generations.
We are who we are because of the way in which the world has been whilst we have been growing in our careers.
Speaking personally, I still have the same expectations, though I recognise the market has changed significantly.
My expectations have stayed the same during the credit crunch but my frustration has increased and I am hoping that my employer continues to look to the long term and keeps developing me and my colleagues.
" A couple of weeks ago I ran a focus group with some Gen Ys and one of the topics was how the credit crunch is affecting their behaviour.
Here are some of their comments: oWill we turn into Gen Xers because of the recession? No, our attitudes won't change even if our behaviour has to in the short term oWe are inherently optimistic and we remain so even if we have to wait longer for what we want.
We believe that we are worth employing and some lucky employer will hire us oOur expectations are the same but our frustration is higher oIf we worked for you and you weren't developing us we would feel trapped oWe probably wouldn't leave our jobs now with nothing to go to but keep us engaged or we will leave as soon as we can My advice to organisations is to put extra effort into keeping Gen Y engaged because, if you don't, they will leave as soon as the market picks up.
Some sectors are still feeling the pain of skills shortages from their cut backs in recruitment and development in the last recession! And, you may well get a reputation as being one of the companies that had a short-term view in this recession if you see it as a chance to 'put Gen Y back in their box'
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