The ‘Millennials’ have been described as lazy, privileged, and coddled. Generation Y includes people born between the early 1980s and 2000. The eldest of this demographic have been entering the legal workforce for a coup of years now, to mixed reviews on their work ethic. The pros for these Gen Y-ers include that they’re bright, well-educated, and aware. However, too many bosses and people in the business world believe that these people carry egos unjustified by their yet unimpressive accomplishments.
The following advice is for both employers and Gen Y workers when it comes to dealing with negative perceptions and misconceptions about Generation Y and the Millennials work ethic. For the college grads, it’s helpful to understand how hiring managers and future co-workers may perceive them. For hiring managers, it’s useful to cut through stereotypes and misconceptions about this generation.
Generation Y Perception: Spoiled/Entitled
Actuality: Yes, to an extent, people in our generation do have a sense of entitlements. However, it is not an inherent personality flaw but partly the fault of Baby Boomer parents who have in fact coddled their children. Constantly being told how special they were and that anything they sought was possible, and rewarding every little thing, has provided strength for this perception. The key for employers is approaching younger workers differently. These employers need to provide constitutive criticism that reflects confidence in them.
Generation Y Perception: Work Ethic = Poor
Actuality: One great thing about Generation Y is that we are the first generation to expect employers to realize there is more to life than work! Many Baby Boomers are now discovering this revelation much later in their careers. Generation Y sees work as a means to enjoy life, and life comes first. While this is the case, the workers in Generation Y have a very strong work ethic, not just in a 9-5 sort of way. Fun and flexibility is required in a work-life balance. Generation Y follows the idea of working smarter, not harder. The key for employers is to offer flexible work schedules which do not have to be a certain amount of hours at a desk. Rather, productivity can come from developing a work culture that is pleasant and positive. Generation Y workers need to step back and look at some of their attitudes about work, especially for entry-level positions. You must work longer hours to earn respect from your co-workers and managers.
Generation Y Perception: Lethargic
Actuality: Look at all the new technology which is available for everyday use. This technology has allowed our generation to multitask and find shortcuts in achieving the necessary tasks. Social networking, texting, and surfing the Web have all made the Generation Y workers more competent and productive. Employers need to accept that there may be many different ways for workers to accomplish their tasks. Generation Y workers need to demonstrate that they are in fact working just as hard as everyone else, and yet, they simply are performing the job more efficiently.
Generation Y Perception: Little Respect for Authority
Actuality: People growing up in the Generation Y do not have a lack of respect for authority. Rather, we have been raised by parents who have taught us to question everything and raise questions when we don’t understand something. Generation Y workers are very independent and not afraid to challenge the status-quo. Workers in Generation Y want to form a relationship with their boss. It’s not that workers in Generation Y have little respect for authority; quite the reverse, they feel employers do not respect them. The key for employers is realizing that asking questions can often lead to answers and solutions that are more effective and efficient. Unlike any other set of workers in the past, employers must also provide more autonomy. Trusting Generation y workers is a must. Generation Y workers need to understand that they must choose battles carefully, and not question very single decision made. They need to give respect and in turn an employer will adapt to their style of work.
In the end, of course, every person — every worker — is judged on his or her merits, not on generalities or misconceptions. So go out there, regardless of any bias or misnomer and prove your worth!