To paraphrase Pete Townsend and The Who, I am now getting old (50 – those of you who think this is youthful are free to comment) and haven’t taken the precaution of dying yet. One of the joys of ageing is having a revised sense of proportion on where shame lies: well, that’s my story and I’m not budging. But talk about Generations X, Y and Z abounds. (For my fellow old fogies, I checked Wikipedia before the gout finally prevented fine mouse control: the next batch will be referred to as Generation Alpha.) But are these generations – or just generalisations? Demographic bracketing is all the rage – an influence both of marketing and of computerisation (where database structures find defined lists of values easier to crunch) – but how far does it help us? Does discussing HR issues in terms of the ‘generations’ in the organisational mix clarify, or over-simplify?


Generation Y have been caricatured by employers as being:

  • Pampered
  • Lacking motivation
  • Poor with criticism
  • Even worse with authority
  • Schooled and brought up in an environment in which it is ‘OK’ to fail

In the coming years, the last of Generation Y will be entering the workplace. As a result, a significant proportion of the workforce will be made up of ineffectual, mollycoddled, under achieving slackers that are likely to turn tail and start texting their therapist at the first sign of adversity, right?

Well, no. And if this is the view that you hold then it’s high time you reconsider your position. In fact, if you’re over 45 years old and hold this view, then you’re probably in need of a mirror as well. Because if there’s anything wrong with Generation Y, chances are it’s partly your fault.