The beginning of the New Year brings the annual class of graduates starting in programs throughout Australia – but industry professionals have warned employers not to be surprised by Gen Y’s struggle to separate their professional and social lives.
The rise of social media has added to the challenges faced by HR, and many employers are reportedly unsympathetic to the ‘culture shock’ experienced by ‘digital natives’.
The first step may be to consider the changed landscape of youth and their relationship with employers.
Andrew Ugarte, head of William Blue College of hospitality management, said that the social, work and study lives of Gen Y form one continuous thread, and pulling the plug on social networking access is perhaps the hardest challenge for young people to overcome when entering the workforce.
He added that many employers have difficulty understanding the culture shock graduates go through when online social interaction is abruptly curtailed and they are expected to focus on the job for eight hours at a time.
“To continue encouraging young people to join [for example] hospitality and tourism, the industry needs to change to meet expectations of upcoming generations,” said Ugarte.
While Baby Boomers and Gen X have more fixed ideas about traditional work hours, Gen Y is more inclined to blur the lines between work and non-work.
As an employer of younger staff, the hospitality industry has been particularly affected by the trends and expectations of a generation who have different work-related values, attitudes and expectations such as more flexible hours and relaxed rules about mobile-phone use at work.
Thus far, the industry has been able to dictate terms regarding dress codes, work hours, and behavioural expectations. However, the question now is whether the responsibility is on younger workers to conform, or if it’s time to reassess the landscape of modern employment.
Ugarte commented that, given Gen X and Baby Boomers were the generations who created the digitalised world, the new generation can’t be expected to “just accept out-dated rules of engagement upon entering the workforce”.
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