Move Over Gen Y — It’s Time for Linksters at Work


Jimmy CarterI am always fascinated when people born between 1976-1979 try to pass themselves off as Generation Y. Those children, born in the days of dark brown wallpaper and the OPEC oil embargo, are the last vestiges of Gen X and are really called Carter babies — and they’re probably as messed up as a previously ambiguous group of kids called Generation Jones.

Kids born between 1980-1989 are really who we talk about when we say ‘Generation Y’ — and the term really describes kids born around 1983 as the median age of the world is now 29 years old. And those ‘Gen Y’ kids are now aging and maturing. They have car payments. Mortgages. They have faced many disappointment in life and they have evolving expectations of their careers.

So what comes after Gen Y? Good question. My niece was born in 1990 and graduated from college this past May. She is not really Gen Y. She is a part of a late-Millennial group of kids that many are calling Linksters. And Linksters have nothing in common with anyone born in 1983.

Let me be like everyone else and speak in broad and sweeping stereotypes when it comes to generational differences. While Gen Y kids like to affect ‘retro ideals’ and hearken back to the days of bicycles and vinyl records, Linksters embrace technology and really expect their cars to sync with their smartphones. Gen Y is idealistic but can actually see other points of view. Linksters are impatient and dismissive.

Ah, youth.

We mix the two groups so easily in our language and our practices because ‘youth is youth’– but a 28 year-old adult in your office has a different set of political, economic and cultural references than a 20 year-old intern.

So how do you manage this new crop of kids, 20 and older, who are infiltrating your offices as summer interns or new hires?

The heck if I know.

Just like Baby Boomers and Gen Y capitulated and eventually embraced your stupid corporate culture, the Linksters will probably do the same. They will protest and say that they have different expectations — but Maslow and the entire history of humankind have shown us that everyone has the same basic set of needs.

  • Physiological needs
  • Safety needs
  • Love and belonging
  • Esteem
  • Self-actualization

Work can provide the basic physiological and safety needs. To some extent, the office can offer a sense of love and belonging. But you’re on your own — with the help of a therapist — for esteem and self-actualization.

So my advice for managing Linksters? Try not to break them too soon. That’s about all you can do.

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