Gen Y in the Workplace

Back in October I was on the Engaging Brand Podcast talking about what I and other people my age looked for in an employer. I came across this article from CNN that talks about what Gen Y is looking for in a career and some of what I wanted and what the article says others my age want are similiar.

The reason I took the job I am in now is because of their focus on work/personal balance and their strong vision they had. One of the things I did not want to get sucked into was working consistently 60+ hours a week and miss out in all that life truly has to offer.

They’re ambitious, they’re demanding and they question everything, so if there isn’t a good reason for that long commute or late night, don’t expect them to do it. When it comes to loyalty, the companies they work for are last on their list – behind their families, their friends, their communities, their co-workers and, of course, themselves.

“I had a conversation with the CFO of a big company in New York,” says Tamara Erickson, co-author of the 2006 book “Workforce Crisis,” “and he said, ‘I can’t find anyone to hire who’s willing to work 60 hours a week. Can you talk to them?’ And I said, ‘Why don’t I start by talking to you? What they’re really telling you is that they’re sorry it takes you so long to get your work done.'”

Upon graduation, it turned out that a lot of Gen Yers hadn’t learned much about struggle or sacrifice. As the first of them began to graduate from college in the late 1990s, the average educational debt soared to over $19,000 for new grads, and many Yers went to the only place they knew they’d be safe: home.

Gen Yers still respond most of all to money. There’s no fooling them about it; they’re so connected that it’s not unusual for them to know what every major company in a given field is offering. And they don’t want to be given short shrift – hence the frightening tales of 22-year-olds making six-figure salary requests for their first jobs. One could chalk that up to their materialism and party-people mentality, but author Erickson has a different take. “They have to get some money flowing because they have a lot of debt to pay,” she says.

To get noticed by Gen Yers, a company also has to have what they call a “vision.” They aren’t impressed by mission statements, but they are looking for attributes that indicate shared values: affinity groups, flat hierarchies, divestment from the more notorious dictatorial regimes.

While Gen Yers will work a 60-hour week if they have to – and might even do so happily if they’re paid enough to make the most of their precious downtime – they don’t want that to be a way of life.


4 comments so far

  1. Steve Roesler on


    Does this mean that you don’t believe that the the way GenY was portrayed is accurate, but instead a sweeping portrait that can be misleading?

  2. Billy on

    Actually thinking about it more and about what some of my friends my age want, I think this article is fairly accurate. For me I remember watching my dad climb up the corporate ladder, but saw what he had to sacrafice for it. I think there a lot of Gen Y kids like me who went through this and realize that there is more to life than a career. One of my goals is to integrate my career with my goals, vision, and values.

    Also, compared to other generations I think we have not been asked to sacrafice something. Our families were smaller and we did not go through a long depression like our grandparents did. I think 9/11 was an awakening, but I think some of the affects of it has already disappeared when it comes to sacrafice.

    Hopefully this answers your question. Thanks for the comment and challenging me to think more into what I write.

  3. Anna Farmery on

    Billy as you know I loved having you on the show – you might also enjoy a 2 part interview I did with Tamara Erickson – shows 79 and 80 explores the generational question even more.

  4. tube8 on

    interesting post thx www u tube8 see you

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