Monday, November 07, 2005

Gen Yers Gaze At Their Navels and Like What They See

USA Today has an article about "Generation Y" hitting the workplace. As you might guess, the reporter and a handful of Gen Yers themselves describe this new generation of workers as a bunch of spoiled brats who are going to change the world, so the old fart dinosaurs should just hand over the keys to the castle.

"Get ready, because this generation — whose members have not yet hit 30 — is different from any that have come before."
Uh, huh.

This age group is moving into the labor force during a time of major demographic change, as companies around the USA face an aging workforce. Sixty-year-olds are working beside 20-year-olds.
Holy crap! Never before in history have old people worked with young people! And 60 is ancient. I thought you had to retire at 42!!??

"Generation Y is much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today's workforce," says Jordan Kaplan, an associate managerial science professor at Long Island University-Brooklyn in New York.
Gimme a break. If the economy was good, like it was about 5 years back, Gen Y could get all proud and sassy, but right now if they want to keep a job, they'll learn to handle the "command-and-control" workplace just fine. Assuming they're not still being bankrolled by their parents that is.

Here's my favorite line of this annoying article:

"They're like Generation X on steroids."
Every paper in the country is going to do an annoying profile on the Gen Yers soon -- hell, they've been waiting to do it ever since the Gen Xers got too old and started acting too much like normal adults to be called slackers anymore. It's low-hanging fruit. Make a bunch of generalizations about a "generation" (and I'm not sure who gets to decide when a generation starts and stops), write a story about how they're so very different from the last generation, and then don't talk much more about it because in a few years they won't be that much different than the previous generation.

Yes, younger workers are always going to be different than older ones, and the difference will magnify the greater the generation gap between two individuals. But to act as if a "young, smart, brash" generation is swarming the workplace, wearing "flip-flops to the office" or listening "to iPods at their desk" and turning the business world upside down is ridiculous.

It was this we're-so-different-and-clever-and-fresh attitude that helped dot-coms collapse under the weight of their foosball tables and unworkable business plans. I'll believe in the new generational revolution when I see it.