Once Again, I’m Talkin’ Bout My Generation

July 17, 2007

As soon as I saw the headline on this post on Web Worker Daily, I knew I was going to have to write about it.  Entitled “What Gen Y Wants From Work“, it’s a guest post by Ryan Healy from Employee Evolution, a site dedicated to the needs of Gen Y as they finish college and enter the workforce. 

The three main points of Ryan’s post are that Gen Y desires:

Increased trust between employers and employees – Micro-managers are incredibly annoying to deal with, especially in the context of a boss-employee relationship.  I can’t say it any better than Ryan – “If I can’t be trusted to get things done without supervision, I don’t deserve a job.”  We want the chance to prove ourselves, whether that means being trusted to work remotely or to be given more control over our projects. 

People in general are happier and more productive when they feel challenged, and I believe that my generation is more focused on personal fulfillment than our predecessors – whether this is because our parents spoiled us, or because we witnessed them working themselves to the bone (at least in part to provide us with the best of everything – yay guilt!), or just because we think that we can have it all, we refuse to stay in an unsatisfying work environment for longer than necessary.  And that leads right into the next point:

Jobs no longer define who we are – Granted, it’s still important, but our job titles or occupations are just one facet, and we demand the right to be able to express ourselves in the workplace.  I find it kind of amusing that the business world seemed to flip from “no, don’t let employees blog or even have access to the internet beyond what is needed to do their jobs” to hiring bloggers to communicate directly with the marketplace and encouraging a culture of openness. 

Of course, there are still companies that are locked up tight as drums, but I think that the shift towards transparency has definitely begun.  Once my general age group really starts climbing the ranks, the change will probably become more apparent.  After all, we grew up with the web, where tools are cheap and information is free and easy to find.  In addition, the cost of becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business are lower than ever, so it’s not uncommon to find Gen Yers involved in multiple projects outside their day jobs.  Gone is the day of working your way up the ranks at one company, we have backup plans.  Once again, leading right into the next point:

Entrepreneurship in the workplace – We want the chance to come up with ideas and see them through to fruition, whether it’s within an established company or on our own.  I think that the companies that promote independent thinking and give all their employees some freedom to work on their own ideas – to create their own job to an extent – will be the successes of the future.  After all, businesses compete to hire the best and the brightest, so give them a chance to prove their worth.

*Here is the original “talkin’ bout my generation” post.  Perhaps I should make this into a regular feature, because I seem to have plenty to say.

** Another post on Employee Evolution that I thought was pretty interesting: Learning to a Run a Business: Get a Blog, Not a Job (probably because well, that’s what I did if you consider freelancing going into business for yourself).

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