Generation Y is changing everything. Born roughly between 1978 and 1994, my generation grew up online. Those of us born after the 80’s can’t remember a world without the Internet or cell phones.
Not too long ago, as Generation Y began entering the workforce, older employers were hesitant. This group of young people seemed unable to focus, addicted to our smart phones, overly casual, and uncommitted.
The product of the Helicopter Parents of the 80’s and 90’s, Generation Y was too dependent on parental intervention even in adulthood, required too much praise for only adequate work, and were easily distracted. As consumers, we were difficult to market to, and unreceptive to tactics which worked for our parents.
Or so they said.
The first wave of Generation Y college graduates hit the scene around 2002. With over a decade of research behind us, Generation Y is faring better than our predecessors would have guessed. What was seen as a lack of commitment to work has actually been proven to be a demand for work-life balance unseen in other generations. An inability to separate work life from personal life has demonstrated a group of people very willing to take their work home with them, who thrive when given flexibility.
A demographic reported to be distracted and overly reliant on the Internet, we’ve shown keen abilities to multitask and research through avenues that our older counterparts were unaware even existed. In conclusion, Gen Y is prone to multitasking and therefore prefer to not waste time, such as waiting in line, when they could be performing other activities.
But what does all of this mean for your business?
Recent advances in neuroscience have indicated that the final, fine-tuning stages of brain development continue into the early 20s. For Generation Y, this means that our brains essentially “developed on” technology. For many young adults, executive function, the ability to reason and think critically derived from the frontal lobe of the brain, relies on and integrates technology into thinking in ways that older generations’ does not.
It was theorized that the helicopter parenting from the previous generations created a lack of self-reliance, and that Gen Y’s have trouble making independent decisions. What actually developed, though, is a group of people who are team oriented whose brains are hard-wired to multitask. A more social mindset means that they value the opinions of others’, particularly in consumerism. Brains that are adept at multitasking well benefit from products and virtual services that allow them to complete multiple projects from their laptops and tablets simultaneously.
Part II of this article will be published on September 26.
About our Guest Author:
Dana Carter, PhD is a classically trained neuroscientist with a background in brain research. She spent five years researching how different drugs and alcohol can affect the developing fetal brain during pregnancy, and two years researching the genetic and environmental contributors to mental illness. Currently, Dana focuses on relaying important brain-health and nutrition information and research to the general public through science writing. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience and her B.Sc. in Psychology from Texas A&M University. She enjoys traveling, writing, and promoting learning about healthy, active minds and lifestyles.