Millennials: Worst Generation in the Workplace?

Posted by: Lindsey Gerdes on October 06

Career site Jobfox has surveyed over 200 recruiters about their perceptions of employee performance based on generation. And for the workforce’s youngest members—often referred to as Generation Y or the Millennials—the results weren’t pretty.

Only 20% of the recruiters classified the Millennials as "generally great performers," while a full 63% of Baby Boomers (43 to 62 years old) and 58% of Gen Xers (29 to 42) were given this distinction.

The only demographic that rivaled the Gen Yers for unexceptional performance was their book-end generation, the Traditionalists (63 and older), who were only considered "generally great performers" by only 25% of the recruiters surveyed.

Furthermore, 30% of recruiters went so far as to say the Millennials were generally poor performers. JobFox CEO Rob McGovern, for one, thinks it's the corporate leaders (not the young professionals) who need the attitude adjustment though. "Businesses must shed negative perceptions and learn new ways to incorporate Gen Y views into the workforce," says McGovern.

Do you agree with him? Or are Gen Yers the true slackers of the workplace rather than their Gen X predecessors, often assigned this very same label?

Reader Comments

Mandy

October 8, 2008 08:48 AM

I work for a custom home builder, Julie LaTerra Homes, in Charlotte, NC and we have several Gen Y employees who are very skilled and bring a lot of great ideas to the table. They do value their time away from work, but while they are here, they give 110%. Their performance is excellent.

Mike Muetzel

October 8, 2008 09:14 AM

The perceptions do not surprise me, but the missing ingredient may be a true understanding of how to increase productivity with their unique set of values and expectations...

Via my research, Leadership and Management paradigms need to change,

Author, Muetzel

brandy

October 8, 2008 09:43 AM

Poor performers are in every age group, ubt I would agree as it always has been and probablky always will be- the youngest age group is going to be the most immature, irresponsible and low performance. Not all young workers are poor performers and every group has their stars. I think companies need to understand what they offer is what they get. Companies offer short term benefits, so they get short term rewards from emplopyees.

Rosanna

October 8, 2008 10:06 AM

I have a Gen Xer working for me as well as a Millennial. I myself am at the end of the Baby Boomers. What separates us is 10 years each. I find that with my Millennial, she doesn't exhibit the initiative in her work ethic as my Gen Xer. When we discuss issues -- so that I can teach her to think beyond what's in front of her, she simply says "oh, yeah." My hopes are that as she continues to learn her job-- she can begin to make those associations and think about things that are beyond what's in front of her.

Austin Lavin

October 8, 2008 02:22 PM

I take issue with the broad generalizations of the title of this post. People have been complaining about the lack of respect, motivation, ability, etc. of younger people forever, this has nothing to do Millennials. I think if anything, this survey shows that businesses need to engage in better training and recruitment of younger employees.

Austin Lavin
CEO and Co-Founder of myfirstpaycheck.com

Patty Liston

October 8, 2008 02:42 PM

Most research shows this same result regarding the Millennials. I believe that there are several solutions: learn to embrace this new thinker--we could learn something; give him/her the tools to adapt more easily to the work-place; fire them. I work for a non-profit that has developed a kids social site called Woogi World. We are laying the ground work for this 21st century generation, in key educational and work-force principles: leadership, critical thinking, cooperation, honesty, & service. Our Every Kid Vote launch will get them learning about their civic responsibilities as citizens, and voting in the national election. Give us a few more years engaging and educating this generation, and your article will be about "The Best Generation in the Workplace". www.everykidvotes.org

Lindsey Gerdes

October 8, 2008 05:25 PM

Thanks for sharing your insights, everyone! (I'm the BW writer who blogged the item.) I do agree there's some of the typical younger-generation bias at play in the survey results. It seems some of you have noticed legitimate generational differences, however, in your own workplaces, while others do think this is all overblown. As someone who borders Gen X and Gen Y (I'm 28), I do tend to disagree with those recruiters who see Gen Y as "generally poor performers." The early twenty-something Gen Yers I've worked with have generally been enthusiastic and refreshingly apolitical when it comes to navigating the workplace (meaning they don't really care much for office politics and tend to be more focused on getting the job done.) Now, some may see this as a negative, but I find this lack of awareness about chain of command, etc. generally beneficial. I know this is broadbrushing the issue a bit, but I am interested to hear from others on this. Thoughts?

Matt

October 8, 2008 05:45 PM

I sense bitterness and shock when I make the decision to puruse other interests outside of work instead of working long hours "because that's the way it is". I am constantly reminded I can stay past 5 if need be. Fact is, I am very productive and hard working. I don't need to stay late everyday to prove that to others. I gave up a long time ago caring how others percieve me.

Dan

October 8, 2008 08:16 PM

I just had a conversation with one of my people last week, where she believes that her 2 years of experience are as valuable as someone with 20 years experience. We work in a business that is largely regulated, with a lot of laws to interpret. It is this type of statements that my young employee made, that makes managers like me cringe, as the younger group often does not understand, what they don't understand, but think they know it all. It is very difficult to overcome that type of attitude.

Patrick

October 9, 2008 03:03 PM

For the first time in history--there are four generations at work in the workplace at the same time. For businesses to succeed--there needs to be better understanding between the generations of the relative strengths of each, and less harping on the supposed negative stereotypes (Millennials are lazy, GenY unreliable, Boomers don't get technology). A jobsite called RetirementJobs.com is working to encourage companies to be "age friendly" which means that they'll value older workers--- and younger workers too.

Wendy

October 9, 2008 07:12 PM

Being a borderline Gen Y/Gen X (I'm 29) I can share that Dan's point seems to be what I often hear. You have to remember that most of us in this younger generation have seen tradition/policy/process change so rapidly, for some much of our lives, that experience seems to mean less than us, than the ability to navigate through untested waters and be able to critically think and problem solve. I think experience is a double-edged sword, I've seen many, many baby boomers who are completely out of touch because they have a steadfast approach to "doing it like it's always been done".

Phil

October 13, 2008 02:01 AM

- Millenials don't fear anything in the sense they will quit before anything else.
- They flag negative people as "haters".
- Their education standards had to get lowered

I think this is very "implosive" as they'll need being supported and nurtured every day.

Soraya

October 16, 2008 07:36 AM

Here we go again, pointing fingers at the latest generation. Like it or not, Generation Y-ers are a product of their times. It's cause and effect, people!
They grew up in highly tumultous times where technology has evolved so rapidly and the flow of information is mind boggling - of course they are distracted!
Go on, point fingers and put the blame on their bad attitudes. These kids are gonna inherit this place so either we learn to embrace them or continue to complain...

Bob Filipczak

October 17, 2008 05:06 PM

First off, asking recruiters about the performance of employees is like asking an accountant how to install a water heater. Not really their area of expertise.

Secondly, statistics say that Millennials did more homework during their school years--twice as much--as previous generations. Their SAT and ACT scores are at 40-year highs. Their performance during their college years is similarly productive and admirable.

Maybe Drucker was right. Maybe these companies just need good managers, i.e. managers who adapt and lead rather than judge and gripe.

Read some Howe and Strauss (Millennials Rising) and see if you can't think of better ways to get the most out of this generation. I think managing these young workers will become quite obvious.

I echo those who say that every generation that enters the workforce is accused of having a poor work ethic, like that's an agreed-upon virtue.

They will out-perform, out-produce and out-impress every other generation if managed correctly.

Rob

October 20, 2008 11:25 AM

As many of you have stated, each generation has it's pros and cons. It takes time to understand the so called Millennials. It's easy to classify each of the generations but a good manager will find a way to connect with each one. Sometimes different approaches need to be made to communicate at a level of true understanding. If you try to force them all to fit in the same box, then you will ususally fail as a manager. You can get the same end result by using several approaches. This takes a little more effort and patience but is very rewarding in the end. All in all, you have to find a way to connect one-on-one if your going to be successful.

rob

October 20, 2008 11:36 AM

As many of you have stated, each generation has it's pros and cons. It takes time to understand the so called Millennials. It's easy to classify each of the generations but a good manager will find a way to connect with each one. Sometimes different approaches need to be made to communicate at a level of true understanding. If you try to force them all to fit in the same box, then you will ususally fail as a manager. You can get the same end result by using several approaches. This takes a little more effort and patience but is very rewarding in the end. All in all, you have to find a way to connect one-on-one if your going to be successful.

Alice

October 20, 2008 12:18 PM

The values and priorities of Millenials is inherently different from Boomers. That taken into consideration, what motivates one group does not play well for the other. There are always exceptions within any group, but since we are speaking in generalizations, we need to consider different techniques for capturing the hearts and minds of the newer workers. Work is seen as a means of getting income so they can enjoy their down time, not as an end in itelf, or a means of measuring "who you are." Perhaps the workaholic Boomers could take a page from that text for themselves. Globally, US Boomers work more hours and take less vacation than our counterparts internationally. If we continue to judge the Millenials by the Boomer standards, we will continue to be frustrated and disappointed in a group of people who truly have much to offer. Weed out the slugs. They occur in every generation. Have authentic conversations with the new folks and find out what they what and need, what are their interests, and then structure your incentives in response to that.

Sharon Mitchell

October 20, 2008 12:31 PM

Every generation has, at one time or other, been accused of being the worst. We must understand that each generation that follows our own is our future. Every generation has its group of non-performers, including mine, the Baby Boomers.

Nothing is wrong with each generation bringing something new to the table. I see the Millineal generation attempting to bring balance between work and personal life. What is wrong with that, as long as they do their jobs? As with any group, work ethic and proper training separates the super stars from mediocre performers. Let's not sterotype an entire generation with a very subjective survey. Each person who manages any generation must understand that you get out of them what you put in, and if you seen that you have put in all you can and continue to get no results, then it is time to make a change.

jim

October 20, 2008 12:54 PM

Every generation has had its "slackers" and so will future generations. If the millineals are not performing the way we think they should all we need to do is look in the mirror and realize that we're the ones that haven't properly prepared them for the workforce if they aren't performing the way we think they should. Also, every generation I've seen since being in the workforce has had its own altruistic outlook on the workplace and/or the world. I don't see the Millineals as being any different than past or future generations and believe that our labeling the generations is just another form of discrimination.

Michaelle

October 20, 2008 01:17 PM

I both agree and disagree with this article. Kids today are coddled a bit too much; Allowances just for being not for chores, Reward without merit (Awards for everyone not just for winners, Graduation for every little grade change), and provided
excessive "extras" such as cell phones just because the kids today have them. Sadly, this results in some of them being unproductive where, once entering into the work force, they expect to be paid to do nothing (or rather to talk on their cell phone, maintain their myspace, social with friends, etc.) and really don't know the meaning of work. However, there are also the ones that work hard and true. Sure, they value their time away from work. But, who doesn't?!? Maybe they are just smarter then future generations in that they demand it. That said, I understand the bias that these types of surveys show. I remember feeling slighted by the GenX surveys that referred to us as slackers when I've always been commited and hardworking. I truly believe every generation has "slackers" and, as I bust my butt every day, I am surrounded by many in all age brackets. And, the older generation will always look at the young as naive and lazy. What the US really needs is to meet somewhere in the middle - We need to learn to be more efficient by better utlizing technology, work hard every moment in the office, and be allowed more time away from work (especially as the country with the least time off versus all that are developed). It may just take the GenYers to do just that.

Eric

October 20, 2008 01:50 PM

Why should corporate leaders adjust their standards? That is akin to the general "dumbing down" of society. When schools lower their standards we get a talent pool that is not prepared for the real world. When little leagues stop keeping score for the benefit of building self esteem in a bunch of 7 year olds we get a talent pool unprepared to overcome adversity in life later on. I have a great way to include "Gen Y-ers" into the workforce. Give them a broom or a mop and tell them they can move up when they grow up.

Laurie

October 20, 2008 03:17 PM

I agree with Michaelle that the most negative impact on this Generation-Y has been the "coddling" effect. If you think this group is bad, wait until the next one comes of age! This is a group who never got spankings, played on rubber playgrounds, and didn't have to "try out" for sports, since everyone who showed up made the team. They never had to imagine games to play because they were born after video games, had TV's in their rooms and mommy never sent them outside just because she wanted some peace and quiet in her house. Now, they tend to think the world revolves around them, and it is reflected in their work ethic. Don't like your job? Quit! Boss made you feel bad? Have your mom call and yell at them! (yes, I HAVE witnessed this!) They suffer from excessive self value as well, and don't understand why they don't get $10,000/year raises after each positive performance review. They tend to overlook their own shortcomings to a point that they're appalled that everyone doesn't see how fabulous they are. As mentioned above by Jim, the fault does lie with the parents. By the way, I'm not a baby boomer nor a traditionalist, just like Michaelle...a hard-working Gen X'er, and one who was fortunate enough to have a mother who raised me with a great sense of independence and accountability.

Dave

October 20, 2008 03:21 PM

It takes all kinds no matter the generation. The Millenials should have the lowest grade, as they have the least amount of experience - that will change with time.

Interestingly, the current economic downturn is the first one for many employees under 35. I believe that how they react to "hard times" will be a real character developing experience.

K.H.

October 20, 2008 04:13 PM

After reading all the posts and raising four Gen Y and Gen X kids, the one thing I have to say is... people in general will behave the way they are treated.
Managers need to have an open mind and look at the individual and modify the training to meet the needs of the person. After all isn't the most important reason to hire a person is to train them to be an excellent employee? In order to do that, you have to see what the best method is and go with it. Our employees range from 65-18 years old and each person learns in a different way, not to mention cultural issues as well.
I agree with the posts that stated quit the labeling. See the person.

Greg

October 20, 2008 05:06 PM

I think Dave's comment above (Oct. 20th) hit the nail on the head. As a HR professional (who graduated college during the last recession), I feel that the Gen Y generation has not had to experience much hardship in their lives... and their careers. As a rule of thumb, everything has been realitivity easy and handed to them. This reflexs, in my humble opinion, on their work ethic and the general view that they don't care. The next few years will gives them a reality check that should do the trick.

Ross

October 20, 2008 05:51 PM

I must agree with Laurie and Michelle, though I think I may be the first Gen Y'r to represent us thus far. A generation stripped of its competetive and capitalistic background through coddling and technological overkill.
No credit junior year of high school? NO PROBLEM, we'll make it work. No attention in class, have some aderol. Straight C's? No sweat, that's average. Didn't make it on junior-varsity? Let's make ANOTHER team! Failure IS an option now, because we are simply adapting to our new failures as they come along.

I am young enough to relate to my peers, old enough to know that we know almost nothing, (in our 1-5 years of experience) we think we know everything, and I'm worried enough that I actually switched careers into medical from mortgage for fear of having to work with peers my own age in equanimity. We are rude, poorly mannered, overly tattoo'ed and pierced, and it is the hard-workers that stand out, not the lemons, thanks to the hard worker's rareity. This generation truly has been coddled to believe that everyone else is here to make our job available. I don't think it is to late at all, however I do think that our managers are the key to turning around the cycle, and I would not compare it to the upcoming generations of past due to the massive changes in technology every day. (though in my limited years, I wouldn't know...)

As with Laurie, I attribute my knowledge of how little knowlege I actually posess to my strict mother, who believes nothing more important than integrity - a trait that is uncommon in our more recent generations.

Nicole

October 20, 2008 06:42 PM

At 26 I am considered to be in the generation y group, and I personally don't agree with some of the statements made here. Many of the people I grew up with did not have easy or coddled lives at all. Many came from divorced or blended families, were expected to care for themselves while their parents worked long hours, and dealt with traditionally "grown-up" issues such as sex and drugs at very young ages. Working in social services I am surrounded by people in my age group who work very hard for very little pay because they truly believe that what they do can make a difference. I have known plenty of lazy older people, just as I have known plenty of hard working older people. It is ridiculous to try to tie motivation to generational differences, when it is well-known that employee motivation is influenced by a variety of factors.

Lindsey Gerdes (the writer)

October 21, 2008 06:59 PM

Thanks for the great comments, everyone! Keep 'em coming. Here are my thoughts on the "is Gen Y coddled?" debate. In my opinion, there may be some truth to the helicoptor parent complaint, but just because parents were/are involved, it wasn’t necessarily in a blindly supportive way. Many of these young adults grew up working hard-and in an extremely focused manner--from the age of 12 to get into a decent college. And perhaps they did so with constant parental involvement, but Mom and Dad couldn't take their tests for them or perform in the recital or found that new school club. With such a results-oriented upbringing, feedback may be expected, but success is never guaranteed for free.

An employer may have to show Gen Yers how they want them to work hard, lay things out very clearly, and set the ground rules, but once they do, they can expect the job to get done..with little to no complaining. Also, perhaps having grown up nurtured by uber-involved parents, they aren't as jaded about authority & tend to respect their superiors more...That's why I sometimes wonder if the Millennials may actually have more in common with the Boomers than with the Gen Xers. Thoughts?

A smart company realizes it's not about heaping on constant praise every time their young employees tie their shoes, but laying out expectations clearly--and giving consistent feedback (good and bad) from day one. Millennials need quality facetime--not haphazard, vague cheerleading & a one-on-one with every C-level executive--to feel positive and productive. Of course I'm making pretty broad generalizations here, but I have consistently found this approach to be most effective in my own research (and from personal experience).
When companies get this wrong though, I definitely think it can lead to misunderstandings (and survey results like we see here.) But perhaps I'm going too easy on the Millennial generation. Or, as quite a few folks have effectively argued, there are simply good and bad apples in every generation. Let me know what you think..

Britt

October 24, 2008 05:09 PM

I'm a GenY'r in the truest sense: 22 years old, recent college grad. I agree that there will always be some good and bad apples in the bunch, but this article is teeming with generalizations. A hard-working nature, passion for the work one does, respect for authority (and the wisdom authority provides)—these things are present in varying levels for every individual, regardless of generation or age.

As far as management of Gen Y employees, being coddled may have worked in high school, but competition in colleges and universities in the present day is very different from what existed for Gen X, making us plenty self-sufficient (unbeknownst to our supervisors apparently). Maybe OUR university experience is what makes Gen Y seem like know-it-alls that don’t respect authority. We feel more in touch with present day (technology, infrastructure) than most of our supervisors.

Personally, upon hire, I believed that I was brought into an organization not only because I had potential, but also because of the new ideas I could offer. However, the lack of responsibility given, lack of influence (meaning respected suggestions- I didn’t want to be the V.P. on the first day) in office politics and ideas for office infrastructure—this is what causes a lack of motivation for many new Gen Y employees. We like to ask “why” things are a certain way not to offend, but honestly to improve things (and not always to be noticed). I think it’s more of a generational language gap—sometimes we feel we are speaking of ideas, technologies and innovations that are brushed off because they are not fully understood.

And yes, we do need to be led, we do need specific goals and objectives to work toward, but it’s not always positive feedback (i.e. raise, bonus, promotion) we are looking for. A job well done is shown not by a pat on the back, but by awarding more trust and responsibility. No one wants to be constantly viewed as the newbie or the youngster. I know this rant is a bit disconnected, but I had a limited time to write.

And yes, I keep up with politics, the economy, world news (in more than one language), and the latest literary releases (maybe unlike some of the other 22-year-olds you have encountered).

Cindy Gibson

October 28, 2008 02:29 PM

I don't know about the 20 year age group, but my 10th grade granddaughter is being given more homework than college kids used to get. She is up every night until midnight trying to get her homework done and keep her grades up. When she graduates, she will know way more than baby boomers did when we graduated,and is already very technologically knowledgeable. I am sure that her age group, as a whole, will have a lot to offer when they enter the job force. Yes, she has a cell phone and has been playing computer games since she was pre-school, but her knowledge, and that of her peers, is very impressive. It will be interesting to see that group come along. Also, all of the kids I talk to plan to go onto further education. This should be great to watch!

Rich

October 28, 2008 05:09 PM

I have been in HR for more than 30 years and I know I fall in the
"Traditionalists" group and we do have issues with loss of focus as most of us would like to retire before we are 90... but my experience has been "Traditionalists" generally accept the job(s) they are asked to do unless it is illegal, immoral, or illecit... where other generations do not so readily understand they are getting paid to do just that... perform the assigned work, no matter what it is, unless it is illegal, immoral, or illecit.


D.J.

October 29, 2008 09:04 AM

I find that comparing the different generations is alot like comparing apples and oranges. Each generation grew up being taught different values in different social circumstances, where traditionalists and baby boomers were taught "the value of a hard days work" the gen. Xers and gen Yers have been taught the value of a "good education". With corporate and social settings becoming more and more regulated the face of the workplace has changed and therefore attitudes in the work place have changed. Motivation has been and will always be more effective when handled on an individual level as a personal issue. Grouping people together by generation is tantamount to stereotyping and really isn't fair to anybody. Individual motivators are the key to increasing productivity from your employees, and when handled correctly any individual from any generation can prove to be an asset to your business.

Allison V.

October 29, 2008 01:35 PM

I personally have had a great experience working with a Gen Y (age 23) and I have had terrible experiences dealing with much older workers. I myself being on the cusp (age 30), having grown up with significant submersion in the culture of several generations, feel that it has less to do with age than with circumstances.

One shouldn't generalize on age anymore than one should generalize based on race. There is clearly more of an issue based on income and parental involvement (and example) than there is for age.

It is true that different things motivate different generations, but let's not overlook a distinct evolution taking place here. New blood brings with them an objective perspective on issues. When one comes along to find that the world is in chaos at the hands of our so-called leaders, it becomes very difficult to feel abliged to "do it the way it has always been done" if the result is to keep a broken system broken. Some people give respect to elders or old ways of doing things if it is EARNED.

Also, experience gained during times of great change encompasses more information than experience during stable times. So, techcially, less experience goes further today.

The world needs desparately to re-think how things are done for the human race to survive, let alone for generations to get along. The new generations have a mess to clean up! I can see where there might be a slight attitude in those who are responsible to deal with it when the older generation bows out.

David Palmer

November 2, 2008 04:52 PM

The future challenge of corporate leaders is to learn how to manage and inspire their human capital. Gen Yers are redefining the meaning of success. It’s not just about money anymore. It’s about a healthy work-life balance and living a high quality life. I recently launched a quality of life job board called jobCogs.com. I hope Gen Yers and corporate leaders (who understand this concept) find each other.

CommonSense

November 13, 2008 02:21 PM

EVERY generation says the younger generation is the troubled one and is causing all kinds of problems. It has ALWAYS been like this, why would it be any different now.

"I mean, dontcha know sonny, back in my day we used to walk in 5ft. of snow without shoes to work everyday, uphill both ways. And we only got paid a nickel an hour my friends! Now those days were rough! You kids don't know the meaning of hard work"

/yawn... we've heard it all before...

PennyP

November 13, 2008 05:23 PM

As a Gen X'er I am pleased to see that a new generation gets to hold the slacker title for awhile, until the generation behind them comes of age at least!!

I don't find it unreasonable that Generation Y isn't willing to put up with the same kind of restrictiveness in the work place that previous generations put up with, after all, the last couple of generations (X and Y) have seen that big business does not give to sh**ts about their employees, has no long term loyalty to their employees and tries to squeeze every ounce of productivity from their workers without being willing to provide a commensurate amount of pay and benefits. In a world where your average worker is less well off in terms of real world dollars than they were in the 1970's, what is amazing is that anyone wonders why the next generation of workers is determined to get the most they can from each employer. Big business created the dog eat dog world we live in, now they can deal with the consequences.

Trevor

December 20, 2008 12:31 PM

I am a Generation Y'er. And im glad 80% percent of people my age are slackers, gives me job security. plus i can think twice as fast as any gen x'r and multitask 8 jobs at once on a good day.

Phili[

January 27, 2009 08:14 PM

The babyboom generation was the first generation in American history to enter the work force and result in lowered productivity. Productivity began to rise when generation X entered to the work forse and continues to rise as generation Y enters the work force. Productivity is the metric that should be used. Opinons and feelings tell more about the generation being asked the question then the generation being evaluated.

hansn parker

February 2, 2009 01:25 AM

My experience as a small business owner is that the millenium generation has been unemployable in our organization. The type of work we do is fast paced and stressful but comes with high rewards for those who have "the right stuff". They "expect" praise and additional compensation when they have in fact just barely perfomed the job that they are receiving a paycheck to do. They are over reliant on technology to where it is a crutch instead of a tool and lack the basic professional communications tools such as face to face verbal communications and business document writing.

M.

February 7, 2009 08:38 PM

After reading all of the comments here, I think it's safe to say that some of us don't "get" the fact that "Generation Y" is comprised of people from lots of different backgrounds/homes/experiences/etc. One comment that falls into this group and stuck out to me the most is the comment left by Ross. He/she uses words such as "we" and "us" to speak on things that are SUPPOSED to be prevalent in the lives of all "Generation Y-ers" and describe the whole group. Simply put? Speak for yourself. You can put a suit, tie, wig, and mustache on a mannequin but...guess what? It's still a mannequin. You can see a girl with a Chanel bag, freshly done high lights, a serious tan, a new BMW, and a bad attitude today in 2009 and I guarantee you that you can go back 50 years and find the same type of person. Laziness, poor work ethic, and bad attitudes didn't start getting ready for take off in 1979(or whenever Gen. Y is supposed to have began). Yes, "Generation Y" does have it's problem children but how do any of us know that MOST of the managers/employers weren't saying the same thing about the baby boomers? There are more outlets for people to vent nowadays as a result of big bad technology. At the end of the day, whenever you have an old vs. new type situation, they'll always be someone from the "new" side siding with the "old". It doesn't contribute any merit to the "old timers" complaints but it's a tale as old as time itself.

Anonymous

March 1, 2009 08:06 PM

It's funny how all the older people believe they are better workers than people my age. Here's a hint to all you older ones...just because your 25-year old does drugs, doesn't want to work and is a loser, doesn't mean we are all like that. I'm 25 and I have been working every year since I was only sixteen, have $20,000 saved in the bank, live within my means, bought a home I could actually afford-unlike some, put myself through school-without help from my parents, too. I am married, have a kid, show up to work every day and am very sucessful. Yet despite all this, I find I receive a negative attitude from the older folks. Could it be jealosy, perhaps? Also, keep in mind, it wasn't people my age who turned the country into what it is today!

emily

March 22, 2009 02:18 AM

Let's take a journey through the minds of two different generational values:

Gen-Yers - getting the job done, satisfaction getting the job done well
Baby Booomers - office politics, to make me look good

Gen-Yers - will spend the first part of their day every morning planning and strategizing their schedule.
Baby Boomers - will spend the first part of their day drinking cup after cup of coffee, engaging in conversation, and meetings.

Gen-Yers - overtime should be an exception rather than the rule. good time management focus on completion of tasks so overtime is not necessary and you can pursue your life. this comes from being toted around from soccer, ballet, piano, and more homework per week than any other generation.
Baby Boomers - over-time is expected, even when your tasks are covered because it shows the boss you work harder.

Gen-Yers - focus on job performance
Baby Boomers - focus on impressing people

Gen-Yers - efficiency
Baby Boomers - meetings, schmoozing, long lunches

Gen-Yers - multi-taskers
Baby Boomers - do things one at a time, occasionally dumping something on the Gen-Xer to do.

Gen-Yers - obligations past work are just as important.
Baby Boomers - no obligation is more important than work

Gen-Yers - if i get all my work done before 5, and much of tommorrow's work, then there is no point in staying at work past 5. i have errands to run, i have appointments to make, i need to go the the gym, i have classes to take, i have volunteer assignments. i am the generation of extra-curricular activities, having spent much of my time in a mini van going from task to task, project to project.
Baby Boomers - i really don't have a life outside of work and i really don't want to. my wife and i haven't slept in the same bed in years. and since i can't have a life no one else can either.

Gen-Yers - If overtime is necessary, I will do it. staying late at work just to stay late accomplishes nothing for the company's bottom line and nothing for me. Working overtime simply to satisfy others inane sense of company loyalty is absurd and cowardly. Moreover, employees receive no compensation in any way for it, other than the hope for a bonus at the end of the year. but the economy that my parents left me with assures me that I may be laid off no matter what I do.
Baby Boomers - Overtime is always necessary, there is always so much work to do. even when i make it up.

Gen-Yers - generally better planners because of time management. also get irritated if they have to stay late because of somebody else's mistakes or somebody else's poor planning.
Baby Boomers - not bad planners but not great planners either. they have all the time in the world for work, so planning their time isn't as important.

Gen-Yers - vacation time is an obligation the company has to the employee, since it was in the package.
Baby Boomers - yes it is offered, but you're lazy if you actually take it.

Gen-Yers - loyalty to family and loved ones is more important than to your company, sorry. historically and internationally they are higher priorities anyway.
Baby Boomers - loyalty to the company because they gave me my lavish lifestyle that i enjoyed at the expense of Gen-Xers, my parents, and my children

Gen-Yers - another reason i am less loyal? i am less loyal because i saw how you treated my dad who sacrificed recitals, soccer games, birthdays and even christmas to work 70 hour work weeks for fifteen years for you. you remember? yeah, you laid him off to hire some cheaper labor overseas, and didn't even provide a severance package.
i am less loyal because i will never have a steady job longer than 5 years. i will keep getting laid off and i will never get the amount of training or experience my parents got, no matter how hard i work or how many asses i kiss.
Baby Boomers - i could care less about what happens to anyone after i die. this is because i worked myself so hard i got way too tired and i no longer care. i'm so tired my productivity can not improve. i am alientated from my wife and children, my daughter got married and i didn't even know it because i was at work. and now i don't even know my own son. so i don't care anymore.

Gen-Yers - pay, standard of living, and overall quality of life is less than what the boomers had working for you
Baby Boomers - i got rich doing the same amount of work

Gen-Yers - hard working
Baby Boomers - hard working

but different ways of getting the work done. and different values.

I hope no one takes that literally for each and every baby boomer or each and every Gen-Y. But this is the difference I've noticed between the two generations. I realize this is not a one size fits all, but generally it is what I have had to put up with working with Baby Boomers and in some cases Gen Xers.

We love efficiency and hate wasting time. That is why we don't work overtime often. Because if company organizations planned better, scheduled better, and strategized more effectively it probably wouldn't be necessary. Imagine the hours that could be reduced in the workplace. Using less electricity, commuting less, fewer office resources required. Our generation probably can, and will, take the standard 40 hour work week down to the European 30-35 or at least provide a months worth of vacation people can actually take, just by being more efficient.

Ok, now it is time for the Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers. It is time to demonstrate that their differences are few and can be bridged more easily than the differences between the millenials and the baby boomers.

Gen-Yers - spoiled
Gen-Xers - lock key kids from the 70's

Gen-Yers - want to learn
Gen-Xers - hate to teach

Gen-Yers – revolutionary and active
Gen-Xers – disillusioned and jaded

Gen-Yers - energetic and positive
Gen-Xers –somber and cynical
the grunge music from the 90's never stopped playing in their heads

Gen-Yers – like indie music
Gen-Xers – like indie music

Gen-Yers – really like electric sound
Gen-Xers – really like garage bands

Gen-Yers – like technology
Gen-Xers – like technology

Gen-Yers – distrust the sytem
Gen-Xers – distrust of the system

Gen-Yers – want to change the system.
Gen-Xers – accepts the system for what it is.

Gen-Yers – distrust baby boomers
Gen-Xers – distrust baby boomers

Gen-Yers – material things less important than family, friends, and activities
Gen-Xers – material things less important than family, friends, and activities

Gen-Yers – doers, but sometimes act before thinking
Gen-Xers – thinkers, but sometimes over think when they should act

Gen-Yers – organized and well –planned
Gen-Xers – disorganized but do surprisingly well with it

Gen –Yers – have something to teach Gen-Xers about better planning and organization
Gen-Xers – have something to teach Gen-Yers about things that can go wrong and how to avoid them.

Gen-Yers – often don’t take the initiative
Gen-Xers – take the initiative, more than boomers do, and don’t cry for credit for it like a baby.

Gen-Yers – highly independent
Gen-Xers – highly independent

Gen-Yers – enterprising, entreprenurial
Gen-Xers – enterprising, entreprenurial

Gen-Yers – work better in teams
Gen-Xers - work better independently

Gen-Yers – we would appreciate it if you Gen-Xers would delegate more of your heavy workload to us. there has to be something we can handle/do. even your busy work?
Gen-Xers – i can’t be bothered right now. it would be a lot easier and faster for me to just do it myself.

Gen-Yers – sometimes need a helping hand, because our parents coddled us. but can handle ourselves well left to our own devices, eventually.
Gen-Xers – very good at figuring out how to do things themselves, because they had to as soon as they entered the workforce and the baby boomers kept them from getting better jobs, better training.

Gen-Yers – even though we love our parents, we have to shake our heads at their greed and selfish ways over the years that have cost us a lot. the sad part is they don’t even care, it seems.
Gen-Xers – your parents screwed us all over. so yes, you should shake your heads. vigorously. they made our lives very difficult when we got into the work world. work here for a few years and you’ll see that they don’t care about anyone but themselves.

Gen X Manager

August 19, 2009 10:29 PM

I agree that a person is influenced both by the upbringing they experienced personally and what was going on around them in society.

What I have noticed in my particular work environment is that the Gen Yers are having some difficulties adapting to the rigid structure of corporate America. The Gen Yers I employ want to contantly bend the rules or completely ignore them. It's as if everything became an option or open for negotiation in their lives. This could possibly work in smaller, independent environments, but corporations are dominated by rules, regulations, policies & procedures. Corporations have learned the hard way that the larger you get, this is the only way to keep from getting SUED. And policies change slowly, so get used to it.

RULES: My boss tells me to uphold said policy, let's say Uniform & Grooming policy. Granted it might be a little outdated, but it states that facial piercings are unexceptable. Personally, I could care less...I even think it looks good on you. But if I let it go & the Manager in the next unit does not....we just potentially opened the door on a lawsuit. Now, when I ask you to remove it YOU actually treaten me that you will quit over it. I mean come on people, it's an accessory. YOU were given a copy of the policy upon hire, YOU accepted it by accepting the position...DONT look at ME as the big monster. Grow up and take some responsibility for your actions & decisions. Get used to it, society is full of them. In companies they are called Policy & Procedures, in society they are called Laws & Norms.

WORK & ENTITLEMENT: A few posters mentioned Gen Yers on these topics. Some stating that the new gen doesn't want to put out the work to earn the benefits or titles, yet they want the responsibility. I see this daily when attempting to coach individuals towards better performance, adding skills, etc. Pats on the back are appreciated, and expected to be constantly flooded upon them. Another manager attempted to have a conversation w/an employee the other day about why he/she wasn't a part of the group of trainers & what we needed to see out of his/her job performance before he/she would be invited to join. Their response was "well, I guess I know what you think about me despite all the hard work I do." There appears to be a disconnect within the Gen Yers about how to acquire that responsibility & trust. Let me give you all a quote from a well-known movie..."show me the money", then I'll give you the responsibility. Your resistance to coaching will brand you "uncoachable". That is a negative reputation to have as an employee. We want to give you everything YOU want, but let us help you please. We have already plied these waters. Helicopter parents...let your kids grow into adults & refrain the temptation to rescue them or kiss their boo-boos.

LOYALTY, SOCIAL CONNECTIONS & GETTING AHEAD: Gen Yers are fiercly loyal to their friends (or at least, friends for now) and often their family. Companies & bosses are definitly not included in this. But even amongst people of equal position, I see a lot of backstabbing. Alliances made, alliances broken. People expending time & energy making others look bad, versus applying it to themselves, working hard at whatever endeavor, to look good genuinely. Is this the influence of the Tanya Harding incident and Reality TV? A previous poster mentioned integrity as being a valuable trait amongst Gen Yers....I'm sorry, I don't see it.

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Read daily reports and special features from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Lindsey Gerdes and Louis Lavelle about companies, careers, and other topics of interest to young professionals.

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