A significant transformation is underway in American schools. As Baby Boomer teachers retire they're often replaced by members of Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1995). There is evidence that these teachers come from a far different set of experiences, experiences that motivate them differently than prior generations. Their expectations about the workplace vary as well.
Members of Gen Y share several characteristics. They tend to be highly educated and concerned with the quality of education. As a result they value education and “attribute their success to their educational opportunities” (Wong & Wong, 2007). They are also very comfortable using technology and avoid disconnected or technologically inferior workplaces. “They were the first generation to grow up in a society saturated with electronic technology” (Rebore & Walmsley, 2010). They tend to be creative, innovative and very self-confident and enjoy working in small groups. Significantly, they are committed to making a difference and contributing to positive social change (Carter & Carter, 2001; Shaffer, 2008; Yuva, 2007). In a study conducted for the Educational Research Service, Marx (2006) found that Gen Y teachers are committed to addressing long-standing social issues including diversity and greater inclusiveness in the workplace.
Characteristics of Gen Y Employees
• Highly educated, value education and attribute their success to education;
• Very comfortable using technology and expect it to be available in the workplace;
• Tend to be creative, innovative and self-confident;
• Committed to making a difference and contributing to positive social change;
• Want to be connected, updated and included and involved in their work;
• Desire relationships with co-workers and supervisors;
• Looking for opportunities for growth, challenging work and assignments and flexibility in work schedules;
• Possess collaborative skills, are committed to team-building and are not afraid of accountability;
These characteristics are different from previous generations of teachers, including many administrators who come from prior generations. It is important that school leaders acknowledge the powerful motivation for change, recognize their unique learning and working style and find ways to authentically engage and involve them in school leadership. I'd enjoy hearing from you about your experience as a member of Generation Y or working with a Generation Y employee.