Generation Y: Spoiled And Oozing Attitude?

If you're a worker in your 20s, chances are you've heard the criticism before. It goes something like this: "Your generation is spoiled and doesn't have the discipline required to work hard."

And if you're older, you've perhaps expressed that precise sentiment about younger co-workers.

A recent survey by workplace-programs provider Workplace Options showed that 68 percent of workers across all age groups say Gen Y -- those 18 to 34 -- are less motivated to take on responsibility or to produce quality work, while 46 percent said this generation is less engaged, compared to their older counterparts.

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And lest you think that's merely some fuddy-duddies harping on younger workers, Workplace Options' survey also showed that 55 percent of Generation Y respondents acknowledged that people their age are are generally less motivated to take on more responsibility, and about a third said that millennial workers are less engaged than older workers.

And while today's changing workplace might seem a perfect place for displaying some new 'tude, workplace expert Mark Babbitt says that Generation Y could use a dose of some old-fashioned career wisdom when it comes to navigating the workplace.

Babbitt recently compiled a list of 25 "Old Fart" rules for working in the new economy. Here are five that stand out:

  • There is no such thing as "I can't do that" -- or -- "That's not my job." (No. 1)
  • There is almost no such thing as a dumb question (ever hear of Google?). (No. 6)
  • What you were taught in school, for the most part, doesn't apply here. Adapt -- quickly. (No. 12)
  • Coming up with idea after idea is great; turning your ideas into usable solutions is gold. (No. 18)
  • Don't ever wait for permission to lead. (No. 24)

Of course, not everyone believes today's younger workers are too lazy or entitled to be valuable contributors.

Generation Y's ability to develop unconventional ideas and willingness to share them suggests that they will become leaders in their own right, says Erica Dhawan, co-founder of the Galahads: the Secret Society for Kickass Women, an online community of women leaders.

In a recent interview with BusinessInsider, Dhawan said this generation's immersion in technology, including social media, means that many of them believe that a single voice can lead to change and propels them to offer their views.

BusinessInsider also notes that millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S. history and embrace their familial roots and traditions. Such variety is expected lead to happier and more productive workplaces.

And while much is often made of the differences between millennials and their boomer and Gen-X counterparts, next-generation career-expert Lindsey Pollack says it's important to keep in mind that their dreams and aspirations aren't that different from prior generations.

Writing recently in The New York Times, Pollack noted that "[t]oday's 20-somethings just want what we all want: the opportunity to live life on our own terms and in our own time frames."


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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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