Fast Company

This is Your New Workforce: Gen Y

Check this out: With Millennials/Gen-Y entering the workplace, managers are starting to feel the effects of over-involved Boomer parents. Like, say, after Johnny gets a not-so-glowing performance review, Johnny's mom calls his boss: "The best way to motivate Johnny is not through negative feedback!" reprimands Mom. That isn't going to fly in this company, you might say, but guess what, this is your new workforce (born between '79-2000). So you're going to have to learn deal with it.

This is a generation has has been advocated for since their moment of birth, has had no line drawn between parents and kids, and has no fear about questioning anything or anyone. What kinds of shocking behavior have you seen from this new crop of talent (or their parents)? Has your company -- or have you heard of companies that have -- found a creative way to deal with it? Or is restructuring their organization to harnass some of the positive qualities (collaboration, etc.)?

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45 Comments

  • PCP

    I am a Boomer (childless, thank god) and I have to say the Boomers have created this Gen Y problem. They gave their kids everything they didn't have (or had to work for) and as a result I have wonderful, educated, upwardly mobile Boomer friends/colleagues with heroin-addicted kids, slacker kids and one with a 15-year old drug dealer kid in the most upscale neighborhood in our metropolitan city. How the heck can you be a drug dealer and not even have a drivers liense? Moving on ...
    My favorite is the friend who goes up to the (expensive private) school every time her kid gets looked at crooked. She never works with the kid to deal with the problem ... she goes up there like a grizzly bear and takes it on herself. The teacher didn't praise her kid enough. The teacher didn't adore her kid enough. Or whatever.
    Then the kid gets some goofball school assignment and my friend goes home and does it for her. I suppose the kid watches the mom and that counts or something. This is a brilliant 50-ish woman, an executive with a company everyone of you has patronized, and yet she doesn't even let the kid live her own life. She lives it for her. I am amazed at this stuff. My fellow boomers can complain all they want about Gen Y, but they are the Dr. Frankensteins (sp?) of that generation!!!

  • Chris

    Horrible and pathetic the way the 20 something Generation treat the Gen-Xer's and The Babyboomer's they definitely need an attitude adjustment!..I just can't believe there this rude when you deal with them in a restaurant! I swear I had to wait freaking 23 minutes for my meal and I just paid for the drink and left but that lady's attitude was ridiculous! I told her I didn't like that I had to wait that long for a meal.And then she said this "Whatever!" That crabby bitch!..Omg what is the world becoming there worse then my generation was I will tell you that! If we ever spoke the way she did! I would have been fired right on the spot!..But I can say that these young kids and adults are the spoiled rotten generation.Pathetic the way the parents raised these kids to adults! Shame on you parents!

  • Kathleen

    If you're having a problem with young employees who can't leave Mommy's skirts then you are hiring losers. Stop hiring second generation suburbanites who look pretty and went to expensive private colleges.

    I guarantee that Gen Y entry level professionals who grew up rural or inner city are *not* having a problem with parents calling their bosses.

  • Maritza Montano

    Every new generation of workers faces criticisms about their work ethics and abilities until they have the opportunity to prove what they can do. Generation Y is no different.

    I am not a generation yer but work with many people who are from that generation.

    I work in the human resources office of a company and actually hear a lot more whining and complaining from the older folks and baby boomers because they believe that they are entitled to certain things.

    I also work a part-time job where 50 percent or more of the employees are under 20 and they are just as hardworking, if not more so, than the older employees.

    I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a lot of young people over the years and have seen them grow up and become integrated as hard working, productive members of society.

    Some of the traits that are prevalent among the generation yers are; being smart, tech savvy, generosity, caring, good ethics, open minded, kindness, politeness, tenacity, optimism, being good team players and unselfishness. Although they can be quite opinionated at times and less than obedient, that can actually be a good thing because they are not afraid to challenge the status quo and can provide organizations and individuals with the impetus necessary to think and develop innovation and change.

    This is the group that has been the most open and accepting that I’ve encountered since coming to the United States 28 years ago. This group doesn’t judge individuals on their race, creed, or some such criteria; but rather, relate to others as individuals, forming strong bonds based on common interest and similar personality traits. I am happy to count many generations yers amongst my friends.

    I volunteer with the Hagerstown Area Youth Soccer League (HAYSL, http://www.haysl.net) in Hagerstown, Maryland and we count several young men and women as volunteers. These individuals provide challenge and inspiration to the rest of us because they are so dedicated and devote so much time and energy to benefit others.

    I have also worked with other organizations, such as churches, homeless, etc. where I have seen how generation yers have worked tirelessly to benefit others and have brought new ideas and challenges to those organizations.

    I am inspired daily by these young people to do a little more than I think I can do in everything that I do, be it work or volunteering. When I observe and work beside young individuals who lead such busy lives, attend school, hold jobs, and still find the time and energy to devote their weekends to volunteering; I feel that I can do no less. Furthermore, they do it with a smile on their face and offer encouragement and kind words to others who might be struggling.

    So much for the myth of the selfish generation. As in every group there are some exceptions, but for the most part, generation yers are great torch bearers of the future for humanity. The future is indeed in good hands.

  • G.B. Veerman

    OMG!

    I was cynical about this post in my first comment above, but just now one of our hard-working, intelligent Millenials brought in bagels & cream cheese -- compliments of her mom.

    Was Moms trying to curry favor for Sweet Pea?

    It worked....

    (If there's such thing as an "appropriately involved parent," I think I just found one).

  • mike strayer

    i guess my parents invested in the laissez faire model of parenting... I don't think I belong to some generation that some other generation made...

  • Olivier Blanchard

    What a bogus label. Gen-X. Gen-Y. I just don't see it. I've worked closely with hundreds of people during my career and I've run into as many childish, bratty, incompetent 50-somethings as I have brilliant, hard-working, insightful twenty-somethings. Are there cultural differences? Sure, but they are more about how they experience the world than the role they play in shaping it.

  • michael

    Yep. I've seen it. In fact I was asked to prepare a powerpoint presentation for one of these kids by my boss. Seems that her boy couldn't get a job on his own so we had to do his homework for him.

    Funny...he still isn't working...

  • Kim Youmans

    This is fascinating! I am a high school teacher and see and hear this all too frequently. I plan to read some of these comments to my seniors tomorrow morning. Thank you "G" for your comments and Danielle for this important conversation starter. I am proud to say, that I teach a Personal Finance class and believe it is one of the best classes they can take. I never hear, "When am I EVER going to use this??"

  • Cat

    A really interesting piece of background on the different generations and their affect on society and culture is "The Forth Turning" by,Strauss and Howe which applies generational theories to historical cycles. They validate most of the previous information both anecdotal and factual. I have found their work to be very helpful no matter what Gen I'm dealing with. The one behind mine, or in front of mine, or two removed from mine! Well worth investigating if you want to see how/why we as generations make the political, social, cultural decisions we do. Including the supposedly overindulged/protected Y'ers.
    http://www.fourthturning.com/

  • Johhny M

    Any Gen-Y'er who is reading this post is most likely a motivated individual whom is constantly focused on learning more in life. Our generation has been placed in a global marketplace where knowledge is the answer. The reason it is difficult for us to make decisions is due to the sad fact that some of you older folk just don't get it. [Posted by: Warren Nelson at October 13, 2005 10:10 AM :: We have, in 18 months, built and released an enterprise level business tool that is now deployed in 4 countries in three languages with a development and marketing staff of fewer than 20, half of whom fit your demographic! ]

    This type of environment is built around the Gen-Y'ers. We don't make decisions yet because we are still learning. How many Gen-Y'ers out there are in a position of power at any measurable level ?
    Born in 79' probley not a decision maker as of yet.

    I have purchased a home, paid off my student loans and a car. Set up a college fund for my unborn son and a retirement fund for myself. Did our parents have this all figured out at the ripe old age of "early twenty something" my guess is no.

    Many of us are bored, we want more out of life than a desk. We want continued eduacation in the workplace, better hours, more family focus etc...

    I don't think that is asking for too much do you?

  • Eat Ham

    If you are offended by the comments, perhaps you should have your mommy call the Internet and have them taken off.

  • Noyophish

    To think that people think I'm too harsh for making my 5 year-old daughter (1999) have consequences for her actions. Today's society would probably put me away for child abuse if they knew that I had 'grounded' her for drawing on the wall.

    I'm all for the end of the 'me' generation.

  • ahorre

    Ok, from we can see... Questions:

    1) Mom / Pop Controller
    2) Shy children.

    Perhaps too much nintendo.

  • G

    Rick,

    Don't you think this new emerging "life stage" is the result of parents that create an "everything's okay" atmosphere for their kids? Where they are bailed out of every tough situation in their lives which in turns makes them emotional weaklings and subject to additional "life stages."

    I think the more validity we give to ideas like "oh look, there is a new life stage now" the more validity we give to this unacceptable behavior.

  • Cara

    Can we please get over the issue of over-involved parents? This has been a problem since the beggining of time. There will always be mothers/fathers who feel it is their duty or right to govern their children's life...whether they are 5 years old or 35. Not too long ago it was custom for parents to choose their children's mates, children were expected to go into their family's business. This is absolutely nothing new. The only modern twist is that we have more children (i.e. female children) in the work force and we're now talking about some of these issues with candor.