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RESEARCH from the UCT Graduate School of Business has shown that the entrance of Generation Y into the marketplace is shifting traditional employer-employee power relations.
There are some interesting implications for human resources practitioners.
The study, Idiosyncratic Deals: Generation Y MBA Students' Workplace Needs, was conducted last year by MBA student Gigliola Russo and supervised by Linda Ronnie, senior lecturer in Organisational Behaviour and People Management.
It sought to discover exactly what attracts Generation Y workers - those born between 1980 and 1994 - to an organisation and what their career and employment expectations are once there.
Ronnie said the research had shed light on how this group could affect traditional HR policies and practices.
"The MBA students surveyed in Russo's study represent the very best Generation Y has to offer. They are young, tech-savvy, educated, informed, ambitious and determined to succeed," she said.
The study illustrates that these employees have much to offer the modern workplace. Russo points to the work of generational expert Bruce Tulgan, who predicts that Generation Y will become "the most high-performing workforce in the history of the world".
He said: "They walk in with more information in their heads and more information at their fingertips. Sure, they have high expectations, but they have the highest expectations first and foremost for themselves."
Russo argues that organisations that are willing to be innovative and flexible with employment terms will be front in line for what Generation Y has to offer.
"Flexibility, work-life balance, mobility, career developmental opportunities and giving back to society are themes pertinent to their workplace needs," said Russo.
A total of 63 MBA students, diverse in terms of gender, race and nationality, responded to Russo's survey, with 62percent rating the opportunity to do work that is exciting as "very important" - the highest measurement. Other areas that were signalled out as "very important" to the majority of those surveyed included having a chance to learn and develop; alignment between jobs and talents; and the ethical record of their employer.
Generation Y candidates don' t skew working conditions unfairly in their favour. Much of what they demand will ultimately help them to be more productive and valuable employees .
"For example, one student responded in the survey saying 'when you choose an employer you need to base your choice on how long am I going to work there, what am I going to learn, how are they going to teach me, what can I do for them?' This statement perfectly captures their attitude," said Ronnie.
Generation Y workers are products of the world they have grown up in. There is more diversity now in media, products and choices so these expectations are extending to the workplace too .