Difficult generation

Gen-Y are a big management problem.

According to all form of legitimate mainstream media and business commentators we are singled-out as some sort of major issue in the current workforce. It is said that Gen-Y needs to learn to be patient, demands everything right now, is greedy, yet is apparently under-skilled in so many ways – therefore a pain to employers and a management nightmare.

It is easy to be stereotyped into these categories, as it is for any generation. Though a problem I’ve observed from employers of Gen-Y staff is that they often treat them as though, because of their age, they assume that they are not mature enough to handle much responsibility, while assuming that because they are a web-savvy, computer generation that they should know everything that is remotely connected to a computer, inside out.

Baby boomers especially seem to have a real problem with Gen-Ys, but not so much with Gen-Xs. Noteworthy is that Gen-Xs were the last generation to actually be able to afford houses, so they are perceived in outdated views to be somehow more mature, reliable, rounded characters – just like the baby boomers.

Baby boomers own all the cards in Australia and much of the world, and receive the majority of government-bribes each budget and election cycle. They own everything; they also contributed to but also inherited a great deal from their parents.

Gen-Ys will only hope inherit the environmental and social consequences of the baby boomers excesses and lack of investment in infrastructure. An under-reported trend that separates the baby boomers from their parents is that many baby boomers inherited or stand to inherit significant estate. An emerging trend of among baby boomers now is to spend every last dollar they have access to on their retirement and leave the future generations to take care of themselves once they reach adulthood.

Baby boomers in many cases have worked hard in their childhoods to support their parents. They also had free university education, free health care, and all manner of government support including last of the pensions. Gen-Y have $100,000 degrees, forced $80 a month private health care, no government support (unless they start a family) and in many cases cannot expect any inheritance. It can be argued that the opportunities presented to Gen-Ys and the strength of the economy means that they don’t deserve an estate… an interesting double standard.

This generational attitude applies to the workforce as well. When a Gen-Y wants to simply do their job, not be belittled and even possibly get recognised for it, baby boomer employers exclaim “No! wait a minute, you are earning good money for your age, so no; I think you have done well and I want you to keep helping me“. Translated: “Make me look innovative, but I’ll take home the fruits of success”.

Don’t be so surprised that I left an employer when he told me exactly this; you see, he could find nothing but positive feedback in my work (from my clients) and I was personally generating one third of a million each year and taking home less than the interest they’d have earned on this cash in the bank each year. I actually had no overheads outside of the software I was using, the office space and utilities.

I should have reported such ageism to some sort of workplace authority, but instead I looked elsewhere for work and went to an employer that paid me even less, but respected my abilities and restored my confidence, and that respect extended right up to the personal recognition of the directors.

Because of the respect for my abilities and not for my age, I committed to work many more hours that was expected (12 hour days for a good year running) and overheard my Gen-X and baby-boomer colleagues demanding left-right-and-centre for increased pay, more conditions and talking up their work so that it would make them look good on paper – not in quantifiable results.

Many Gen-Ys are highly capable due to their open minds, with the ability to really consider the triple-bottom-line, not just profit and growth at all costs – and of course their adaptability. With such attributes some should actually be put in more positions of power and influence – except the baby boomers and Gen-Xs will not allow it.

This is why so many Gen-Ys want to set up their own companies and foster highly sociable cultures with their staff and have a drink with them, not jump into their luxury cars and drive home early on Friday afternoons to get away to their third or fourth investment property for the weekend.

Gen-Y workers and business owners can hope their efforts will be recognised through the output they produce – and not by the age on their licenses.

It is up to everyone to appreciate the Gen-Ys ability to adapt to change and be a positive influence in the workplace as much as the Gen-Ys look up to their baby boomer bosses for guidance and inspiration. Respect is a mutual thing, Gen-Ys would like to see their efforts appreciated and not to read about themselves as a problem to be managed.


2 thoughts on “Difficult generation

  1. Rita says:

    It sounds like boomers in Australia are doing well. Here in the U.S. about 25 percent of boomers are ill prepared for retirement. Many boomers will continue to work after retirement age because they need to, or because they want to work part time or change careers.

    Here in the U.S. all generations are struggling to make it. Boomers took over the workplace from Matures. As boomers get older, a lot of Gen-Xs are getting into manage; some boomers who lose their jobs due to downsizing have trouble finding work. Gen-Xs are favored because they’re younger.

    Talented Gen-Ys are appreciated here, if management is progressive.

    I hope you can find a boss who appreciates you and pays you better.

    I write a blog for boomer consumers at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.


  2. Hammersmith says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Hammersmith!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: