Listen up gen X'ers

From Wikipedia:
Studies predict that Generation Y will switch jobs frequently, holding far more than Generation X due to their great expectations.
As a proud member of Generation Y I have to say that this prediction holds up. I myself have had at least 8 jobs in the last 10 years (although some were concurrent), and I am not an edge case.

What I don't agree with is the notion that Gen Y will flip between jobs because they are fickle or have "great expectations". The reason is actually quite simple: it's because 99% of employers make absolutely no effort to create an environment that I, and most of Gen Y, want to work in for the rest eternity.

Let's look at some of the common features of the modern workplace:

  • A cupboard full of International Roast, paid for by a social club funded by the employees
  • The opportunity to work unpaid and unrecognised overtime
  • Flexibility to arrive at work +/- 90 seconds of 8:30 am
  • The ability to take annual leave in order to complete study directly relevant to your current job
  • The opportunity to carry around a work phone - just don't make calls on it
  • Criticism for taking the initiative in changing established procedure, even if those procedures are outdated and inefficient
  • Annual performance reviews that will cite you for a lack of initiative 
  • Dirty looks when you try to sort out your insurance over the phone on work time, even if the insurance company will only take calls during work hours
  • Heavily monitored internet access, just to make sure that you are not connecting to other human beings via social networking when you should isolated and staring silently at an Excel spreadsheet
  • Competition for the 6 car parks to be shared between 30 employees
  • Enthusiastic (bordering on aggressive) support for annual training on the occupational health and safety issues surrounding the dangers of not sitting up straight or not maintaining 3 points of contact when walking down stairs
  • Absolutely no support for training on that new software package that you are expected to use on a daily basis to do your job
  • Insert any Dilbert comic strip here...
And Gen X managers wonder why Gen Y employees see little value in signing up to these jobs for life? Seriously!?

Here is the hard truth. If you offer the kind of pay and workplace culture that can be found in 99% of companies, then why wouldn't employees switch jobs on a regular basis?


While I completely agree that there are manifold reasons why the younger technophiles switch jobs more frequently that have nothing to do with fickleness / great-expectations, in my experience overall they do nonetheless expect more than their predecessors from an employer. I, as an employer, love them though as they bring to the table a lot that their predecessors do not ... and of course one size does not fit all. There are exceptions to every rule.
Edward Donovan said…
If you are going to get the same thing at 99% of workplaces, why not just stay at your current job?

I don't see a problem with high expectations, but if the job you are applying to isn't any better than the previous job, you are being fickle.
Thanks Matt, if I'd have looked closer before, I might have seen; (as a GenX rep.) this difference between us makes more sense now. For any gen Y reading; we're like this because we had enough time (growing up) to learn from our boomer parents that a career meant one company, medical/dental/retirement. NO, it's not lost on us that most places that have/had pensions have long since bailed, but remember, we grew up with grand parents who were supported well through EOL by them too. The thought was 'take care (commit to) of the company, and they'll take care of you. (we're all humans right?)

Now, on the other hand, is a different age, and Matt's right. (dunno about the percentage, but he's close) 'The Company' doesn't care about you... maybe they never did... regardless, it hasn't got time or resources to. In the pursuit of it's primary goal it fails to account itself to those who make that goal (and the pursuit for that matter) possible. It's a symbiotic relationship that works best when it's balanced. Unions (they're not the devil) pushed the balance to the employees (and not to the extent most think) Now most companies have managed to push to too far the other way.

I'm just glad that I've manged to find a career that I thoroughly enjoy (even if it could pay better), and for my part, would need a significant increase in compensation to move to something that might feel more like work again.
Anonymous said…
I respect anyone who tries to do their job well, has spent a lot of time at university or other formal training, and ensures they do not let their ego get in the way of work! The worst thing is someone who Googles everything you ask them, and fiddles with their iPhone continuously proclaiming it has Internet! (By the way, I had internet on my Nokia 6600 in 2003 and still have it nearly 10 years later).

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