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Here come the 'Linksters'

By Todd Humber (todd.humber@thomsonreuters.com)

Who doesn’t love a good moniker?

When it comes to naming the different generations, we were practical at first. The baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) were just that — products of the massive post Second World War baby boom.

Then we needed to find a name for people born before the boomers — and traditionalist (born 1927 to 1945) seemed like a logical fit. (Though, they’re also known as the “Greatest Generation” thanks to journalist Tom Brokaw — and it’s tough to argue with that moniker.)

When it came to naming the generation after the boomers, we got a little more creative with Generation X (born 1961 to 1981). The term was popularized by Canadian author Douglas Coupland in his 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.

Following Gen X we strayed back into the practical (and alphabetical) realm with Generation Y (born 1982 to 1994). Though, Gen Y itself gets many monikers, including Millennials, Generation Next and the Net Generation.

So now it’s time to bestow a handle on the next generation, the one following Gen Y. And the consensus is…

Generation Z? No. Too easy. (Plus, we started out too late in the alphabet with X. If we went with Z, what would we possibly call the next group?)

The name that seems to be sticking is “Linksters.” It’s being bandied about to describe the generation born post 1995 that is just about to enter the workforce. One interesting article in the Edmonton Journal said, “Employers who hire Linksters are apt to discover that while they are more technologically savvy, they are perhaps less socially skilled than previous generations.”

In a nutshell the message is simple — Linksters have spent plenty of time online social networking, but they haven’t spent as much face time as previous generations. That could have obvious implications for employers if these youngsters are truly disadvantaged when it comes to face-to-face communications.

But don’t believe the hype. Most young people I know move effortlessly between online and personal interaction. One could even argue they’re better at networking and communication period because they spend time online in the evening chatting with friends via text messaging or videophone that other generations might have spent alone.

And call a generation whatever you like. But, remember, they all want pretty much the same things as they move through the different periods in their working lives. What a Linkster wants from an employer when she enters the workforce won’t vary much from what her mother or her grandmother wanted when they started their careers.

It''s the stages of life that dictate wants and needs far more than any generational differences. Young workers want challenging work. As they marry and have children, they strive for more work-life balance. And as they become empty nesters, they seek a return to meaningful and challenging work.

The only difference now is that young workers are smarter, and less shy, than their predecessors. They know what they want, and they’re not afraid to ask for it from day one.

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resources management. For more information, visit www.hrreporter.com.

Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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