Many people perceive the habits of Generation Y to be lazy, indulgent , and simply just too different from their Baby Boomer and Generation X counterparts.
Are we really lazy and entitled, or are we just misunderstood? Do we unknowingly enforce this stereotype?
Generation Y, those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, has a desire for a different workplace and career, but it doesn’t stem from a spoiled youth. Rather it is from a new state of mind built around technology.
Erica Dhawan, a freelance consultant on leadership in the workplace, wrote an article for Forbes that said the problem is that Gen Y and the corporate workplace are out of sync. She discusses how Gen Y wants to create its own schedule and put in the long hours in a different fashion and style. We’ve got apps, Skype and Dropbox to organize, share and meet for work from anywhere we are.
“…this time it’s not an attitude problem, it’s a transition in business where globalization and technology have radically changed the game,” Dhawan wrote in her article.
The technology change takes a larger effect on the younger generation, as we got to grow up and learn apps and new programs early on in our careers and in college. Experiencing this new way of organizing our work lives and schedules fuels our desire for a non-traditional workplace, rather than the sense of entitlement older generations sense from us.
The misconception of our generation is captured in the way people perceive cell phone use at work; it looks like we sit and text all day, but we could be updating information on our project management app or sending valuable emails. Technology gives us ample opportunities to make our lives faster and easier, and no one takes advantage of that more than Generation Y.
However, the advantages of technology do have a cost, and take away opportunity to develop skills beyond technology — specifically soft skills and personal attributes that can enhance your interactions and job performance.
Business Insider’s article, “Why Gen Y Workers Have No Idea What Their Managers Expect From Them,” discussed a study called “Gen Y Workplace Expectations” that found the perception gap between managers and their younger employees was the lack of soft skills. The three main skills, according to the article, were prioritizing work, having a positive attitude and teamwork skills.
“It’s hard to build soft skills and real relationships through technology,” Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, told Business Insider. Organizations recruit people with the hard skills that can do the basic and immediate tasks, but these skills don’t guarantee that workers can go beyond the basic tasks of attending meetings, composing notes and answering the phone.
So how do we, as a generation, take it to the next level? We miss that extra oomph that soft skills — skills such as good communication, eye contact and ability to be on a team — can give us. We can overcome this barrier by working on our communication and listening skills, as well as building active professional relationships in our workplace.
Generation Y needs to look beyond itself, its phone/tablet/computer screens — and figure out how to take part in the workplace beyond technical and hard skills. Understand how you fit into the bigger picture, especially when applying and working in a company.
Technology is an amazing tool and skill set that employers look for in our generation. We understand it better than anyone, but we should also know its limits in the workplace. We need to be able to work beyond our organization apps and online tools, and be able to apply ourselves just as strongly in a meeting, interview or networking opportunity.
While so much of our professional and personal lives have moved online, showing a balance of online and offline skills can take our generation from “lazy and entitled” to well-rounded and prominence in the workplace.