I’ve had this post tabled in my “draft” box for a while because it just wasn’t finished. Then today I read Penelope Trunk’s blog, “4 Frequent questions about Gen Y answered” and my brain kicked in.
I am wondering if Gen Y is getting a bad rap.
For a couple of years now, all I’ve heard about is how the Gen Y generation don’t want to work. They think nothing of quitting a job after a year. Coddled by their parents to the point of complete lack of understanding of the pressures facing them in “the real world”. You have to talk to them gently. They can text, type, talk and listen… all at the same time.
They think it’s OK to come in to work at noon in Berkenstocks and toting an iPod. And still be the company President in a year.
Some employers say it’s frustrating. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place because boatloads of baby boomers are retiring and Gen Y is moving in. They are more technically savvy and can do the work in half the time as their older peers. Their older counterparts are going to have to learn to work with them, if they want to work collaboratively at all.
I am seeing it in a different way. I have 4 nieces and nephews (ages 18-22) in college and they are all incredibly hard working (and I’m not just saying that because I adore them). They all held jobs through high school and still in college, while juggling sports, chores, friends, etc. They have turned out to be very respectful young adults and they don’t expect to be given anything. Now perhaps they are in the minority, but judging by their roommates and friends who are doing the same thing, they seem to be in the average.
True, Gen Y professionals don’t have the mindset, “stay at your company until retirement”, and rarely will they stay long enough to leave an impact, but in this economy is that such a bad thing? When I was in my teens and early 20’s, my parents kind of gave me the “Oh well, deal with it” shrug if I complained about a job. They also gave me the “You’re not living here if you don’t have a job and are going to college” look/talk. Needless to say I moved out at 21, went to school full time, and worked full time while paying for my own education. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
I am so glad I did. What a sense of accomplishment. The kids today are told they can come back to stay. 65% of kids move back home after college and they are OK with it, whereas I would have been mortally embarrassed to face friends AND family if I moved back to Mom and Dad’s. Times are different today. Parents parent differently today and kids expect things from their folks (imagine that!) but that is a whole other story!
So, what’s the conclusion to the story? Perhaps we judge too harshly EVERYONE in the Gen Y generation. There are still good, hard working young professionals out there, wanting to find a good job and stay there for many, many years. Not ALL people in their 20’s are “slackers” and reside in the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. Maybe they will help transform the workplace into a more flexible and friendly place to be– while still getting their work done and rescheduling their yoga times to evenings. Who’s to say? Anything is possible.
For further reading on Gen Y and what is available in the workforce, go to: http://mashable.com/2009/01/30/generation-y-social-networks/ Dan Schwabel’s Gen Y blog or www.BrazenCareerist.com.