The idea that the “younger generation” is from another planet is age-old, and no different from the notion that “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.”
However, there is certainly a fundamental cultural shift that is taking place at work that is a product of the social, political and economic changes of the last 20 years or so.
In India’s case, I call this Generation-C (C for Choice). The 20+ year olds or younger who are entering the workforce in India are ones who were born after the introduction of color television in India (1982), who have grown up with the explosion of media options, who have always seen multiple models of colorful cars running around on the roads. They’ve savored the fruits of liberalization during their childhood. Similar shifts were happening in China, having started a couple of years earlier — and Eastern Europe — and South Africa — and, of course, the US and Western Europe.
There is absolutely no doubt that these changes mean something to the attitude that this generation brings through the door, when they walk into work. Expectations of the young are always high; this generation’s seem even steeper.
Secondly – it sounds trite – technology has definitely had a significant impact in how truly fragmented we can be as an organization and yet be functional. Rigid attendance rules need apply no longer. Telecommuting is a reality, if not the norm.
However, however…these changes couldn’t happen without the previous generation@work loosening their shirt-collars and work-habits somewhat. That generation – the baby boomers and Gen-X in the case of the US, other labels in other countries – have challenged earlier norms, started the changes rolling, and Gen-Y is building on them.
“Plus c’est la meme chose, plus ça change.”