Thursday, August 23, 2012

Skipping a Beat

A story in yesterday’s WSJ noted that companies are beginning to realize that they have to coddle their precious millennial workers in order to keep them happy. More Firms Bow to Generation Y's Demands:

They're often criticized as spoiled, impatient, and most of all, entitled.
But as millennials enter the workforce, more companies are jumping through hoops to accommodate their demands for faster promotions, greater responsibilities and more flexible work schedules—much to the annoyance of older co-workers who feel they have spent years paying their dues to rise through the ranks.

Employers, however, say concessions are necessary to retain the best of millennials, also known as Generation Y, which is broadly defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s. They bring fresh skills to the workplace: they're tech-savvy, racially diverse, socially interconnected and collaborative. Moreover, companies need to keep their employee pipelines full as baby boomers enter retirement.

It is estimated Gen Y will comprise more than 40% of the U.S. workforce by 2020, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, far outnumbering any other generation.

This is all too depressingly familiar to us Gen Xers. After dealing with demands for attention and special treatment from arrogant, entitled boomers for our entire lives, we now get to experience the same from the generation behind us. With the looming shadow of boomers finally moving away, we get a glimpse of the spotlight only to see it already being eclipsed by the millennials. In just eight years, they will be the majority of the workforce and companies will have no choice but to cater to their whims.

When where we the ones demanding that companies change their polices to accommodate our preferences? It never happened and it never will. Our time never came and it never will. All part of being part of Generation X.

The best part of the rise of millennials in the workplace is that it’s ticking off boomers.

These generational differences may be why baby boomers often gripe about their younger colleagues as arrogant kids who don't know how to dress appropriately, deal with customers or close deals, said Shirley Engelmeier, a diversity consultant who advises Fortune 1000 companies on employee engagement.

And providing us with plenty of laughs.

A 2010 Pew Research study found that while baby boomers—generally born between 1946 and 1964—cited work ethic, respectfulness, and morals as their defining qualities...

Yup. That’s what I think of when I think of boomers. Work ethic, respectfulness, and…(sorry it’s hard to type this without chortling)….morals. Yes, the generation that came of age in the Sixties and spawned the nihilistic hedonism of the Seventies and the decline of societal and cultural values that continues to this day is all about MORALS. Good one guys.

...millennials chose technology, music and pop culture, and liberal leanings—followed by superior intelligence and clothing as their defining qualities. Millennials are also likely to prioritize lifestyle over salary, and to foresee changing careers.

Are the millennial kids smarter than your average bear? Sure they are, just ask them. I suppose this inflated sense of self shouldn’t be a surprise given that since birth the millenials have been told have everything they do is great and how special they are. When your grades are inflated, your sports competitions end with “everyone’s a winner” and trophies, awards, and certificates are presented for almost every conceivable mundane accomplishment, of course you’re going think that you’re wonderful. Your music sounds better. Your clothes look better. And damnit, you are smarter than everyone else.

Not to belabor the point made earlier, but it’s revealing to note that this entire article about the rise of the millenials at work and the boomers' reaction to it includes one solitary mention of Gen X.

The Lakeville, Mass., company also decided to scrap its policy of an 8 a.m. workday start to accommodate young hires who make the one-hour commute from Boston, where they prefer to live, Ms. Borkowski said. The company now has more flexible work hours.

The suggestion came from a newly formed "Culture Club," a committee of Gen X and Gen Y employees.

That’s it. In this telling, the entirety of the involvement of Gen X in this transition is to get to be part of a committee with millenials. No views from Gen Xers were presented, no analysis on what this change will mean to Gen X workers. Oh well, at least we’re used to it by now.