Table of Contents

Managing the New Workforce

Managing the New Workforce

International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation

Edited by Eddy S. Ng, Sean Lyons and Linda Schweitzer

Shifting demographics around the world have created a unique historical phenomenon in which a large cohort of employees (i.e., post-war Baby Boomers) are nearing retirement, and a new cadre of younger workers are being recruited to replace them. These twenty-something year-olds, often referred to as ‘Gen Y’ or Millennials, represent the workforce of the future and come with their own set of expectations, demands, and work habits. The contributors to this volume, drawn from countries around the world, document the cultural, historical, and social context surrounding this phenomenon. The international perspective makes it possible to examine cross-cultural similarities and differences in HRM practices. This timely book provides an understanding of the new workforce in multiple countries and settings and a valuable reference as scholars and employers seek to understand the values, beliefs, and expectations of the next generation of workers.

Chapter 8: Assessing Millennials in the South African work context

Nico Martins and Ellen Martins

Subjects: business and management, human resource management


According to the Harvard Business Review (, cited in Hamilton, 2011), “the make-up of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: ‘In four years Millennials–the people born between 1977 and 1997 – will account for nearly half the employees in the world. In some companies, they already constitute a majority.”’ This shift in society has radically changed the way we do business and organizations need to be in touch and in tune with changing landscapes. It has become more noticeable that the children born in the last two to three decades have been born into a very different world than the world that the Baby Boomers were born into. Changing world events from 1989 such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, symbolizing the end of a decades-long struggle between communism and capitalism, creation of the world wide web in 1990 (opening the Internet to those outside the scientific community and resulting in the Internet becoming the world’s fastest growing communications medium) and other technological changes, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 (The List Blog, 2011) and in South Africa the release of Nelson Mandela from jail on 11 February 1990 (Codrington and Grand-Marshall, 2006) have contributed to the radically changed landscape.

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