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Thursday, 26 March 2015 22:08

Gen Ys like the idea of ‘going it alone’

Image courtesy of gubgib, Image courtesy of gubgib,

Australia’s Generation Ys – those born during the 1980s and early 1990s – are a ‘freedom loving’ bunch more likely to consider quitting their job to work for themselves, and also claiming that corporate loyalty is an outdated concept.

That’s at least what many generation Y workers have revealed in responses to a recent study by online workplace Elance-oDesk which says that traditional approaches to hiring are not working for Australia’s growing Gen Y workforce and their “increasing demand for flexibility, creativity and freedom in their careers”.

And, according to the study, technology - which Gen Y workers are seen as being more adept in using - may play a part in businesses changing to better accommodate the "values" and skills of the Gen Y workers,including their "unique talents" in technology.

The study reveals that 39% of Gen Ys have trouble finding a traditional job, while 53% of recruiters have difficulty sourcing Gen Y workers.

Elance-oDesk also says that a “staggering” 85% of Gen Y would consider quitting their job to work for themselves.

And, Gen Ys’ show their intent to ’go it alone’, with 28% saying they see themselves freelancing or owning a business in the next 10 years. They are also revealed as budding entrepreneurs, with 55% saying believe they have a more entrepreneurial attitude than the previous generation.

While many of them think about their earnings potential as important (42%), culture, people and choice were viewed as even more important.

According to Elance oDesk, recruiters are representing businesses that are attached to traditional work values and, therefore, perceive Gen Y as lacking a few important traits:

•    84% of recruiters believe Gen X has better leadership qualities than Gen Y

•    81% of recruiters say Gen Y is more likely to have egotistical tendencies

•    Only 21% of recruiters believe Gen Ys are more desirable hires than Gen X.

Elance oDesk cites Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which show that, today, there are more than four million Gen Y workers in Australia, and that they will eclipse the working age population of Gen X – those born in the early 1960s to mid 1970s -  within 15 years as it moves toward retirement.

Kyri Theos, Elance-oDesk Australian Country Manager, said the business community has a role to play in adapting to the ambitions of Generation Y.

“On one hand you have an emerging portion of the workforce that is tech-savvy and has grown up with entrepreneurial values and stories of startup success.

“On the other hand, recruiters are trying to meet the needs of businesses that are still working with a traditional 9-5, hierarchical structure.

“While we’re certainly seeing more Silicon Valley-style workplaces emerge, our study shows that rigid corporate culture still prevails and that recruiters are measuring candidates against this. To retain Gen Y talent, businesses need to become more flexible to better accommodate the values of this growing generation, which will continue to be integral to the workforce.”

And, according to the report, technology could be the missing link.

Theos say the recruiters surveyed recognise Gen Ys unique talents, with 57% saying Gen Y is more technologically adept, creative, adaptive and confident than the previous generation. Businesses also focus mostly on skills, with  47% of recruiters and Gen Ys agreeing that organisations focus more on skills when hiring than attitude or personality, while only 17% of recruiters think attitude will be more important in the next ten years.

“The problem arises from the definition of ‘skills’ - there is a difference between hard skills built on years of experience and innate skills that can be moulded and used to drive new thinking.

“Gen Y is the first generation of ‘native’ tech users to enter the workforce. While some may lack business acumen or have a different attitude to work, there are many benefits to having a team of fast learners and creative thinkers.”

According to Theos, technology also creates an opportunity to change workplace practices.

“Technology has created always-on work culture - 83% of Gen Ys surveyed say that in their current jobs they are required to be contactable at all times – but technology also enables workplaces to be more flexible.”

The study also reveals that freelancing is an attractive employment option for Gen Ys, with 61% believing it offers flexible working times, a flexible working place (50%) and the ability to choose their own work (48%).

Unsurprisingly, says Theos, technology companies are leading the way in hiring freelancers, with all tech companies surveyed using them and 45% of recruiters expecting to hire more freelancers in the next five years.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - an iTWire treasure is a mentor and coach who volunteers also a writer and much valued founding partner of iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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