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#HRTechConf: HR, Wikinomics and Generation Y

If you want to understand what’s happening in business and culture today, the tail end of the Agrarian Age offers several telling clues, according to Don Tapscott, co-author of “Wikinomics.” Monday morning, Don delivered the opening keynote at HR Technology Conference & Expo. He covered much ground—much like his book does. And the implications of his ideas are deep, going well beyond the scope of HR. One blog entry can’t do his presentation justice, and this blog entry doesn’t try to do so. But one thing Don covered is Generation Y’s sharp departure from older generations’ approach to working. That’s highly relevant to HR.

Central to Don’s point about the youngest generation in the workplace is that they’re open. They like (even prefer) to collaborate. And they’re far more prone to share. From all that has been written about them, we know all this. Plus, they crave, even expect, the same in exchange, from their employers.

That’s a big deal with fundamental ramifications to once tried-and-true organizational frameworks and unspoken ways of behaving in the workplace—the implicit expectations that other generations have come to expect and haven’t thought to question. For years, organizations have defaulted to top-down, authoritarian models of leadership and management, and their employees, for years, have accepted this. Generation Y has not and will not.

Generation Y also collaborates—spontaneously, more so than their counterparts in Generation X or among Baby Boomers. And the youngest in the workforce tend to voice their concerns loudly when they encounter remnants of organizational old–think that impede the potential for collaboration. They’ll leave to work elsewhere, where collaboration is welcome, encouraged and facilitated. Technology and culture both play into winning or losing in that battle to retain talent.

What’s the key takeaway for the world of work? A massive obliteration of longstanding institutions is underway, Don maintains. These institutions have done a great job of sparking and carrying us through the industrial revolution, helping us experience all its benefits, too. But these same institutions are now in the way, blocking the future, and large traces of the old ways of thinking persist in our work life. Younger people are rejecting these notions, which fail to keep pace with technology’s facilitation of new ways to be.

According to Don, the proper response is to embrace Generation Y’s rejection of the old ways. Organizations that do so gain competitive advantage by gaining Generation Y’s favor and benefiting from their new–think savvy. That’s a critical component today to survival in business and life.

By the way, have you taken a ride with #CeridianDayforce yet, at HR Technology Expo? Click here to see the #HRTech we have going on, at booth 723. On top of free Vespa giveaways, we have free candy, too.

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