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The UAE’s effort in understanding its ‘Generation Y’

The baby boomers as typically stereotyped in the US came first and were followed by Generation X.  But now those born between 1982 and 2002, and entering the workforce in increasing numbers are referred to as UAE’s ‘Generation Y’.

This so called generation has certain values and attitudes on its own, differentiating it well from earlier generations.

In the Emirates, this generation has in similar fashion open its eyes and grown up in a booming economy.

Ashridge research has found that from a social point of view, Generation Y respects tradition, is very family-oriented and fairly conservative.  In the workplace, however, attitudes are much more internationally orientated.

In a number of international surveys, which included respondents from both Europe and the Middle East, Ashridge questioned both Generation Y graduates and employers about their respective attitudes to issues of leadership, management, promotion, reward, security, development and work / life balance.

By and large, graduates from all regions reported that they are after challenging and interesting work, high salaries and very fast career advancement but;

45 % said they felt their salaries were too low;

30 % said that their status was too low.

57 % of graduates indicated that they would leave within two years.

Meanwhile the graduates believed also that their employers should provide them with job security.

In terms of the graduates’ expectancies with respect to their bosses, many found disappointment and not what they were looking for and as much as 32 % said they were unhappy with the performance of their boss.  This one in their eyes who did not and / or provide the respect, the listening and support for career progression they were expecting.

The Ashridge research asked also bosses about what they thought of Generation Y.  These while acknowledging the Generation Y’s openness towards all international matters and relative ease and happiness to use technology, thought that it (Gen Y) needed to develop through learning before claiming for promotion or significant life improvement.

For the managers, providing regular feedback about performance and setting clear work objectives were most important and that it does somewhat present a challenge as they believe that Generation Y is perhaps a little too interested in work /-life balance rather than in work in its own right.

Similar studies are currently underway, looking specifically at the Emirates.  The research meant conducting a whole range of interviews with employers The first phase of this research has involved a range of interviews with employers.  The second, presently being conducted, involves a broad survey of Generation Y members across the region.

The first phase of this research has involved a range of interviews with employers.  The second, presently being conducted, involves a broad survey of Generation Y members across the region.

From the interviews with employers, it has become clear that there is a genuine desire to better understand the overall plans of Generation Y.  There is an ongoing concern about how to continue to develop the Emirati economy away from a reliance on fossil fuels and more towards a knowledge and service economy.

In the minds of the managers, this presents a challenge as they believe that Generation Y is perhaps a little too interested in work /-life balance rather than in work proper.  They are also wondering whether this is due to the age factor across Generation Y is an influencer and whether this will change over time.  They are nevertheless of the opinion that it is a genuine change in attitude but it is believed that only time, and the findings of the forthcoming research project could tell.

For more information about Generation Y research and Ashridge Business School, visit www.ashridge.org.uk.

 

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