In this Generational Viewpoints article, we asked members of Hansen, Barnett & Maxwell (www.hbmcpas.com), a Salt Lake City-based accounting firm with more than 60 employees, to share their perspectives about their generation's attributes that need better explanation or understanding. Generation Y semi-senior Travis Olney, born in 1984, and Baby Boomer partner Robert Bowen, born in 1949, opined on the following question:"What would you most like others in your firm to understand about your generation?"

 

OLNEY'S GENERATION Y VIEWPOINT

I have to say that I may not be the most representative person to speak for my generation. I'm not the "typical" Generation Yer. I was born in June of 1984, a month after Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. That said, somehow I don't have a Facebook account. I don't Tweet. I don't have an iPhone or an iPad, and I'm terrible at video games. Perhaps I'm "old school." Nevertheless, there are a few things that I would like others in my firm to understand about my generation.

Perhaps it's the old-school part of me, but I will admit that people from my generation can sometimes have unrealistic expectations. I know some who believe that they should already have everything that older generations have worked years to achieve. Although the majority of Gen Y may not share these feelings of entitlement, a segment believes that they should get paid more to work less.

However, I would say that the majority of Gen Y members are very grateful to be employed and to be gaining experience in their chosen career field. In many ways, we are children of the economic recession. Most of Gen Y didn't get to enjoy the economic highs of the 1990s and 2000s. Instead, we graduated and began looking for a job during the recession. Even though most of us didn't have much to lose in our retirement accounts, we have been impacted by the recession and have learned many lessons from these economic difficulties.

We want to have successful careers, and we understand this will require hard work, long hours at times, and a good deal of stress. However, we want to find the most efficient ways to accomplish our work, and we think that technology provides many opportunities to improve efficiency. We also want to find a way to balance our professional and personal lives. We do not want to look back on our careers in 40 years and recognize that our only achievements have been professional.

To end, on behalf of Gen Y, I would like to propose an agreement with all of you Baby Boomers. Gen Y has been informed, on numerous occasions, that we have it easy on the "new" CPA Exam. Although your arguments are highly debatable, Gen Y is willing to concede that the "old" exam was much harder than the "new" exam on one condition: Please don't tell us your "walk uphill both ways in the snow" CPA Exam stories anymore.

 

BOWEN'S BABY BOOM VIEWPOINT

Baby Boomers were born over a period of two decades, and I am among the first born during our generation, which has seen great prosperity after a time of world war. We were blessed with having a lot that made our lives comfortable and interesting. There was great advancement in science, and also many conflicts in the world. However, the speed of those advancements do not compare with the speed of technological advancements that younger generations are experiencing today. Globalization of markets and economies has changed our lives and the way we do business.

New methods of communication have exploded and, to some degree, have made relationships less personal because we have less face-to-face time. We used to write a letter to communicate with friends or family members, and it would take several days before we could expect a response. Now, we have the low cost and ease of long-distance telephone, video, video conferencing, e-mail and texting. In some ways, I believe this has resulted in distraction from the real goals that bring success to a firm and activities that are important to many in my generation, like the amount of focused time spent building relationships with prospects, clients and team members.

I believe that Baby Boomers view things more long-range and can be less demanding with regard to when things must happen. The fast pace of the world today has made it difficult for some younger-generation members to focus on the things they need to do to achieve their goals - instead of expecting automatic success. Our generation did not grow up feeling entitled. Despite the prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s, most Baby Boomers were expected to be independent when they reached maturity. We expected to work hard and pay our dues before increasing position, salary and benefits could come our way.

While our generation is more known for our persistence and hard work, we need to be willing to mentor and assist those from the younger generations who are interested in obtaining insight from our experiences. We also need to listen to the fresh ideas of the younger generations and respond with change. If we are able to learn from and use the generational advantages in this way, it will propel our organization to a wonderful and exciting future.

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