University of Calgary

Gen X vs. Gen Y

Submitted by alumni on Sun, 04/03/2016 - 13:11.

Gen X vs. Gen Y

Is there room enough for two generations in our future workplace? Differing values, communication styles, benefits and challenges are all on the table. Take a peek.

Generation Y Said
Born in the 1980s and ’90s

Eric Termuende, BComm’14, is co-founder and director of Gen Y Inc. Recognized as a Top 100 Global Emerging Innovator under 35, Termuende works with organizations across the country and looks to help attract talent based on fit.

What unique values does Gen Y bring to the workplace?

When it comes to the workplace, we value and lean on the integration of technology more than previous generations. We view diversified networks and skills more (this comes from the demand of schools and jobs that require extracurricular and volunteer experience), and we “work to live,” not “live to work.”

Do generations communicate differently?

Absolutely, and the integration of tech­nology is the key here. The next generation of people will have full virtual relationships without leaving the comfort of their beds, couches or homes. Trends are shifting to more text communication than voice in the interest of efficiency. This isn’t to be mistaken as a shift that is necessarily for the better. I think there are a lot of great relationships that aren’t being developed in a traditional (and, I’d argue, more meaningful) way.

“Different generations are speaking different technological languages.”

What benefits do different generations bring to the workplace?

Anything from perspective to opinion, experience, lifestyle, class, upbringing, culture and so much more. Each person sees the world in a unique, individual way.

When do generational differences disappear in the workplace?

When relationships are strong enough to have open communication and allow people to be comfortable with who they are, what they can contribute and what they are capable of in the workplace. The onus is on human resources to build the right team to ensure this is possible, with the support from a visionary leader that prioritizes the employees and sees them as the key to organizational success.

Why is this such a big deal?

Because different generations are speaking different technological languages. It is hard for someone who has spent their whole life learning one technology to try and learn a new one, only to have some junior, who was born with it, be so much better at it.

What would your ideal physical work place look like?

If I could float between different spaces designed for the work I’m doing, I’d be happy. My current work environment allows me to be at home part of the day, in clients’ offices part of the day, and in the office (which is a very open concept) other parts of the day.

With easy access to so much technology, some say there is too much group think going on with Gen Yers — and not enough original thought. Comments?

Everything from education to the workplace is trending towards group work, as exemplified by recent news coming out of UCalgary and a “team examination,” which I think is fascinating. I don’t think there can be too much collaboration because if one person thinks they may have the best answer, it’s up to the rest of the team to challenge them to be the best they can be. We all have a critical role to play in teams. U