Is Gen Y Trashing or Updating the Modern Workplace?

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Posted by The Editors on August 16, 2011
Is Gen Y Trashing or Updating the Modern Workplace?
For the cover story of the upcoming issue of WetFeet magazine, we decided to explore the stereotypes that Generation Y will face when they enter the workforce. We’ve heard a lot of recruiters and managers go on about how the latest arrivals to the workplace are shaking things up.  

Some of the gripes about Gen Y employees are that they act entitled, need constant positive feedback to keep their self-esteem puffed up, and struggle operating independently. On the upside, some employers laud the inherit ability Gen Y employees have for using technology and social media to their advantage, their knack for searching out information with online tools, and the aptitude for working in a flat team-oriented environment.

But, as often happens when we set out to report an article, for every question that was answered, a new one came up. For example, we weren’t sure how familiar people were with the generational stereotypes associated with millennials (the interchangeable term for Gen Yers). Generally speaking, how far do these stereotypes reach?

So we thought we’d throw the questions out there: Are you familiar with the term millennial and aware that Gen Yers have a bad reputation in the workplace? If so, do you agree with these stereotypes? Are they fair? Or is it just another case of older generations trash talking the youngsters? We’d love to hear what you think. And let us know whether you're from Gen Y, Gen X, or a Baby Boomer.

Also, look for our article when the magazine is out. We try to offer advice to help millennials from playing into these stereotypes—but professionals on either side of generational divide could learn a thing or two about dealing with the other. For example, one of the tips we offer millennials is that even if you are comfortable taking notes with your iPhone during a meeting, defer to the good ‘ole pad and paper when meeting with a Baby Boomer. Obviously, the lesson for the Boomer is to recognize that the iPhone is a useful work tool—not just one for playing Angry Birds.

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