Our changing workers

Is North America's work force undergoing a substantial transformation related to the way today's youth have been raised?

They're called "millennials" -- people born between 1980 and 1995. Some say they can be defined by a collective psychological framework: coddled by parents, used to a comfortable lifestyle, congratulated for simply participating and not really challenged or prepared to deal with adversity on their own.

Focused on their own interests, they have grown up with easy and immediate access to technology that facilitates social networking. Constantly connected to their friends, they are comfortable being part of networks or "teams", but are not necessarily prepared for leadership.

Robert Hurst, the president of CTV News, said in a speech to Canadian news directors (RTNDA) last night that he believes millennials will soon define North American society. By some accounts, millennials number about 80 million and could become more influential than baby boomers.*

In the world of work, they desire an environment that is adjusted to their specific needs and expectations. Meanwhile, baby boomers who run most of today's companies are scrambling for ways to cope. They find this new wave of employees to be very fickle and demanding.

In some places, the collision of different generational values can be heard as loudly as the clash of cymbals.

For more on millennials, see this story at CBS News

* In the global economy, they are a North American and European phenomenon which may be distinctly different than workers in the large work labour markets in emerging and developing countries.

Thanks to Paulo Correa for his graphic entitled "Vector Concert". He made it available at http://www.sxc.hu/.

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