• Thu, Aug 23 2012

Businesses Are Bowing To The Demanding Gen Y Workforce

Back in May, I looked at surveys and research calling Gen Y employees demanding. These crazy kids have high expectations, want lots of perks and feel like their superior educations should guarantee them respect in the office from the very start. When I heard about all these bossy, needy Milliennials, I couldn’t help but think that it might be good for corporate America.

After all, we just went through a horrible recessions, where companies began to feel like they were doing you a favor simply by employing you. The transactional relationship of employment had given way to the idea that you’re “lucky” to have a job. It rarely went the other way, wither companies feeling lucky to have their high-quality, hard-working employees. I mean, there were always more out there who wanted the opportunity.

Maybe those demanding Millennials were going to do some good in the high pressure corporate culture of today’s world.

You know what? It looks like Gen Y is already starting to have an effect. The Wall Street Journal reports that more companies are bowing to the demands of younger workers.

But as millennials enter the workforce, more companies are jumping through hoops to accommodate their demands for faster promotions, greater responsibilities and more flexible work schedules—much to the annoyance of older co-workers who feel they have spent years paying their dues to rise through the ranks.

Employers, however, say concessions are necessary to retain the best of millennials, also known as Generation Y, which is broadly defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s. They bring fresh skills to the workplace: they’re tech-savvy, racially diverse, socially interconnected and collaborative.

Generation Y brings a fresh perspective to the workplace. They also bring an innate knowledge of the largest growing and most desired consumer base. If companies want to connect with young customers, they need those who relate most closely to that demographic involved in the process. That’s putting some young, and possibly inexperienced, professionals in powerful positions.

However, companies can’t expect to implement these new processes and procedures without a little blowback from existing employees. Plenty of older workers are crying foul on all these accommodations.

These generational differences may be why baby boomers often gripe about their younger colleagues as arrogant kids who don’t know how to dress appropriately, deal with customers or close deals, said Shirley Engelmeier, a diversity consultant who advises Fortune 1000 companies on employee engagement.

But their impatience, she adds, shows an ability to question the status quo and devise new ways of doing business.

Gen Y is asking for more from their companies. And I stand by my earlier opinion that this could help improve corporate culture for everyone. Maybe the baby boomers should get on board and borrow a little bit of that entitlement. After all, they’ve earned it, right?

(Photo: olly/Shutterstock)

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  • Lastango

    This might apply to part of the tech sector, where many people are functionally contractors doing project-based work even if they are on the payroll. It doesn’t matter if they knock off at 1400 and go to Starbucks as long as they get the job done (they’ll find out soon enough this practice doesn’t work — especially when kids in India are not doing likewise — but that’s another subject). In a task-based environment, it matters little if they float from company to company. BTW, they’ll think this is freedom. In fact they’re opting out of the track toward higher management — but they’re too young and stupid to know that yet. If they then start their own firms, great. But otherwise they’re just hired hands.
    ==========
    Regarding the larger workplace however, I suspect the article is highly misleading. It smacks of the sort of pre-debt-bubble detatchment and smugness that characterized our decades of phony prosperity. The new reality is that average Americans have lost about 40% of their ilusory “wealth” during just the past few years, real earnings are now falling year after year, and the world is spiraling into global depression. We are heading into a very different, much harder future. The implosion of the legal profession is just one of many canaries screaming in the coalmine. This isn’t going to look anything like those TV shows full of smartass, empowered, leisured young whizzes who are masters of their own universes.

  • Lastango

    This might apply to part of the tech sector, where many people are functionally contractors doing project-based work even if they are on the payroll. It doesn’t matter if they knock off at 1400 and go to Starbucks as long as they get the job done (they’ll find out soon enough this practice doesn’t work — especially when kids in India are not doing likewise — but that’s another subject). In a task-based environment, it matters little if they float from company to company. BTW, they’ll think this is freedom. In fact they’re opting out of the track toward higher management — but they’re too young and stupid to know that yet. If they then start their own firms, great. But otherwise they’re just hired hands.
    ==========
    Regarding the larger workplace however, I suspect the article is highly misleading. It smacks of the sort of pre-debt-bubble detatchment and smugness that characterized our decades of phony prosperity. The new reality is that average Americans have lost about 40% of their ilusory “wealth” during just the past few years, real earnings are now falling year after year, and the world is spiraling into global depression. We are heading into a very different, much harder future. The implosion of the legal profession is just one of many canaries screaming in the coalmine. This isn’t going to look anything like those TV shows full of smartass, empowered, leisured young whizzes who are masters of their own universes.

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