If the suit doesn’t fit . . .

A little while ago I read a rather concerning article. It surrounded a new subject that was creeping its way into school curriculums – workplace behaviour. The gist of the article was that Gen Y were performing so badly in the workplace that educators were now actively taking steps to ensure that the next generation were much more employable. Could the solution actually be a couple of marketing steps away?


Gen Y bears a lot of the brunt from other generations. We are lazy. We are unambitious. And we expect everything to be handed to us on a silver platter. Is this really true?

All of my friends are ambitious. They know exactly what they want and they are willing to work incredibly hard, undergo many unpaid internships and go to great lengths to secure the job of their dreams. Yet they are still seen as selfish and entitled by many other generations.

The fact that educators are so concerned with this stereotypical view of the current young workforce that they have decided to implement workplace studies is frankly quite scary.

Workplaces are undergoing a dramatic shift at the moment. Working hours are changing – we spend less time in the office but are hooked into our work emails and contactable 24 hours a day. Working expectations are changing – remember that phrase ‘If you love your job then you never work a day in your life’? That is driving increased motivation in younger generations. And the style of work is dramatically changing due to the increasingly rapid development of technology.

In this constantly developing and changing world, is teaching the current students how to function in a traditional workplace environment really the answer?

In my opinion, not at all. The answer lies in marketing.

At the core of marketing is an understanding of your consumer. Getting them to exhibit the desired behaviour draws on this strong understanding of the consumer, their motivations and their drive. Many people make the mistake of skipping this step. They design their ideal product and then blame the consumers when nobody turns up at their doorstep to purchase it. I think the same thing is happening here.

This current generation is remarkably different from previous generations. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

Generation Y has grown up with the internet at their fingertips. They have a strong understanding of technology and the huge amount of information they are exposed to has caused a different kind of processing and functioning. Rather than try to remember a smaller amount of important information, we now become incredibly curious knowing that the answer to almost any question is simply a few mouse clicks (well, finger taps) away.

It is purely a different approach.

If the core of marketing truly is understanding the consumer, then maybe this is where the problem lies. The current workplace (the product) was designed for other generations (the customers). Generations with different motivations, desires and internal wiring. While the blame is now falling on the upcoming workforce, maybe it is actually time to step back and take a look at the product to see if it is actually misinterpreting its target audience.

If the customer doesn’t fit, it isn’t always the customer’s fault. Maybe it is time to have a look at the product!