Social Science blog

08 March 2013

'Generation Y not?' A view from a 'Y' member

In this blog post, Abiola Olanipekun, a British Library Intern, offers a personal reflection on an article about the management of members of 'Generation Y' at work (by Katie Best and Francis Braithwaite). The original article is available through the Management and Business Studies Portal and is linked to below.

As a member of the so called 'Generation Y', I have grown up with digital appliances all around me. Generation Y are the first generation to have had regular computer use at school, but the last to play outside in a way that the 'Generation X' kids did (the generation before us, generally considered to be those born from the early 60s to late 70s). Without it being a massive deal to us, we grew up with progressive technology, from the early game consoles, Microsoft packages, VHS to DVD, MP3s…you name it; we were the guinea pigs for it and consumers of it.

Then, in recent years, the digital world upped an ante or two. MySpace was given to us, Facebook was everywhere, and Twitter exploded on us. Well, as they say, the rest is history…at least until a new gadget or excitable craze comes out.

Well, before I completely lose my audience, I came across an interesting article that was one of the written pieces waiting to be uploaded to the Management and Business Studies Portal at the British Library. I read through it and had a semi-deep think about it, and here a some of my honest opinions about the way Generation Y are construed and described, and about the advice on managing this group that is offered…

From what Katie Braithwaite and Francis Braithwaite describe, Generation Y is not exactly loved by all, particularly not by some of their Baby Boomer and Generation X colleagues and managers. They suggest that the multi-generational workplace brings new issues also into play and that there are considerable downsides and consequences to badly managing Generation Y, and to losing sight of the benefits that their interests can have to the workplace. Their interests should be acknowledged, or better still, engaged with.

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Social media Public Domain Mark

The article also highlights the differences in the social networks of Generation Y and Generation X which are connected to the elephant in the room, otherwise known as: social media. Best and Braithwaite also discuss how the modern workplace can (and perhaps should) facilitate Generation Y’s adeptness with social media.

Well, here are my humble thoughts about Generation Y at work. As a member of Generation Y, I think it is safe to say that one management style will not fit all. Different people within a generation will produce different outputs and work in different ways. Without suggesting that Best and Braithwaite are over-generalising, I do feel managers (on a whole) can be given credit for accepting and working with the differences between them and different members of Generation Y. A growing number of organisations do recognise that Generation Y’s social media use is invaluable and they are making steps to accommodate this. However, as social media is still evolving and progressing at such a rate, who knows how Generation Y and their managers will end up in working with this change.

Feel free to disagree with me, or better yet, read the article and consider the issues yourself. This has been my brief take on this intriguing article and, for now, I will continue to read through the many articles I work with to see whether another thought-provoking piece about Generation Y will pop up!

Abiola Olanipekun is an Intern in the Social Sciences department, working with the Business collections and the Management and Business Studies Portal. All views expressed are her own. You can follow Abiola on Twitter @Ola_Ola1


(2011) Best, Katie. & Braithwaite. Francis. Generation Y Not? Chartered Management Institute.

Other useful links

Researchers of Tomorrow: the research behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students

Generation X: The slackers who changed the world


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