There's a new movement in the workplace and its numbers are growing. Members of Generation Y are confident, ambitious, have great access to information and move only in one direction - up.
Millennials: they have the technology
DUBAI // They are aged about 30 or younger, are confident and ambitious, have plenty of ideas and are keen to share them, and they're fans of social media and instant messaging.
They are the Millennials, a tech-savvy generation of workers taking over offices around the world.
And the UAE, with its large young populations of nationals and expatriates, has a greater concentration of them than most countries.
The term was coined by population experts and social commentators to describe the generation born between 1981 and 1997.
The Millennials, also known as Generation Y, came after Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980, who are seen as driven and willing to throw everything into work.
They followed the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, who are categorised as nurturing and interested in self-development.
The latest generation will eventually make up half of the world's workforce and insights into what makes them tick were given yesterday by the HR expert Jonathan Budden, who works at Microsoft's Dubai office.
"Millennials are self-assured, confident, super-ambitious, think everybody wants to hear their ideas and are willing to take on the difficult and big jobs," Mr Budden said.
"So when a Millennial first comes into the workplace they're not thinking, 'I'm just going to settle in and find my way', they're thinking, 'where's my next step, how am I going to get as far up the tree as quickly as possible?'
"This generation has a huge amount of confidence. It can come across as arrogant - 'I'm a fresh graduate, been here two weeks and I want to be promoted in six months, or I want to be at this level in three years'.
"Because it's such a mixed population here in the UAE … the same type of people are here.
"When you see the energy and enthusiasm of these people, they have great ambition and they ask really difficult and testing questions because they've got so much access to information."
Mr Budden stressed that although such attitudes were found in the region, they were not limited to this part of the world.
"This isn't a specific thing related to the Gulf, it's just that this generation wants to progress quickly, and if you look at the States it's exactly the same," he said.
"They want to enjoy their job, they want things at their own convenience and they want opportunities for growth. If an employer can't give that to them they'll go and find it somewhere else."
Mr Budden gave a presentation at the HR Leaders Forum that was held in Dubai alongside the Careers UAE recruitment fair for Emiratis.
He gave advice to other HR professionals about how to manage the sort of young worker who, he said, might typically remark to a friend: "I saw the CEO in the lift and told him the latest strategy is weak and they should look at China."
Mr Budden gave four hints: use their communication tools, map their ambition, nurture and support them, and have patience.
"What you see is that the rest of the generations find that what these guys are bringing is really useful for all of us," he said.
"I'm seeing the Boomers and Generation X using tools like instant messaging in exactly the same way as Generation Y, but they've just brought it to our attention.
"You see it infiltrate across all the generations - grandmas are texting their grandchildren now."
Meanwhile, as the Millennials continue their relentless conquest of the global workplace, experts have already identified their successors.
"It'll be called whatever the social networks decide to call it," Mr Budden said.
"There's a chance it'll be Generation Z - you're starting to hear that phrase.
"They're going to be even more tech-savvy and challenge even more."
Talking about her generation
DUBAI // “Yes, I’m super-confident,” says Fatima Al Muhairi who, at 23, falls right in the middle of the Generation Y age bracket.
Like many Millennials she has already entered the workplace, in her case with Etisalat, but her goals go far beyond picking up a pay cheque at the end of the month.
In this respect she conforms to one of the traits identified by Jonathan Budden: ambition.
“I’d like to open my own company in fashion,” Ms Al Muhairi said. “And I do have plenty of ideas, definitely, I’m always thinking of fashion designs.
“I like to get my ideas out there through instant messaging, though I don’t have time for Facebook and Twitter.”
Mr Budden said Millennials were more likely to seek advice from Baby Boomers than members of Generation X.
But Ms Al Muhairi said often the best suggestions came from her Millennial peers.
“Sometimes people my age come up with a new idea, not like an old-school idea,” she said.
“Most of the time we have the knowledge and we have the technology. We are the people who have reached the highest in technology.”
* Colin Simpson