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Just two days before the ringing in of 2009 I’m finishing up my series on Gen Y perceptions based on the Gen Y Perceptions Study done by the Cal State Fullerton Career Center and Spectrum Knowledge. The study was an interesting read for me, obviously since I’m blogging about it. I wanted to put my own views on what the findings of the study meant to myself as a member of Generation Y. I think it’s an important subject seeing as I’ll be heading into my future workplaces being managed by Boomers and Gen Xers.

If you’re just stopping by for the first time on this post, I encourage you to visit my older ones and let me know your position on the issues. Whether you’re a Boomer or Gen Xer, all opinions are valid and encouraged! Moving on now, my final topic in the series is about the study’s findings which say my generation needs constant rewarding if it’s to be motivated and successful in the workplace.

Receiving feedback and professional rewards

The study talks about my generation as being one that constantly requires feedback from bosses. From my experience, I’d say this isn’t necessarily the truth. If it is, it’s only from our instructors in school reminding us to come to them if we have a problem or issue. Personally I can be pretty stubborn at times. I would much rather solve something on my own and stress about it to no end before I even think about going for help; maybe it’s a guy thing, but who knows?

When I finally break out of my stubbornness and go in search of feedback, I welcome it, as long as it’s constructive. I learn quite a lot when I have those one-on-ones with instructors/bosses. Not everything they give me in terms of feedback is treated as gospel, however. Since I’m in school for PR and formerly for Journalism, a lot of assignments are judged on what the instructor believes to be right. I could hand in a paper to 5 different instructors and get 5 different marks back with unique feedback on each. Early on in my post-secondary life I realized: a) grades don’t matter, and b) that feedback, while valuable, is something I can store away and use later to judge for myself against different feedback I’ll inevitably get from another instructor or boss down the road.

The study mentions that Boomers and Gen Xers are shying away from giving feedback to my generation for fear of hurting our feelings. If you’re a Boomer or Gen Xer and you’re reading this, I say DON’T. As long as the feedback you give is constructive and doesn’t put the person down, it does nothing but benefit your employee. As I mentioned, I make a mental note of the feedback my boss is giving to me and I can add it to the list of things I’ve learned from previous bosses/instructors. A thing I’d like to point out is that in a job I realize I’ll be writing for a client in many cases and that style has to reflect them. If the criticism is along the lines of me not doing that, then I’ll fix it as I was told. I mentioned it’s a subjective business so you’d better be trying to please the boss of today more than worrying about the instructors of yesterday if their lessons differ.

To alleviate our supposed easily bruised egos, companies today are encouraged to offer rewards such as days off or awards for good practices. The study points out that over 60 per cent of respondents from each generation expect rewards frequently. Because of the way the economy is going, employees can’t be expecting bonuses or pay hikes very often. This is where Gen Y’s preference for a work-life balance comes into play. Employees can offer more days off for good work performance, which costs them, but not as much as a bonus or pay hike, in my opinion.

Conclusion

The study seems to talk about how my generation was so cottled growing up and how we’re so fragile. Obviously when talking about such a large group of people it’s hard to avoid mass generalizations like this. I not only wrote this series to give readers a bit of insight into how I view myself as part of my generation, but how I may differ in some ways. I admit I haven’t had a bad life where I’ve had to overcome a ton of obstacles, but I know how to take criticism and I’m not all about me in the end. I realize I’m entering a business environment where I’ll be expected to work as part of a team as well as receive criticism for my work. I hope from reading this series, and my blog in general, that you’ll see my generation isn’t necessarily like the one portrayed in the study. We’re all unique individuals with seperate goals and aspirations and we don’t all necessarily fit into the neat moulds prepared for us.

After a short Christmas break I’m back with my fourth installment in my Gen Y perceptions series based on the Gen Y Perceptions Study done by the Cal State Fullerton Career Center and Spectrum Knowledge. I hope everyone had a good break and managed to sufficiently stuff themselves with delicious food, because I know I did. In my last few posts I’ve talked about Gen Yers being tech savvy, casual at work and life, and wanting work-life balance. Next up is a look at how I fit into the perception of my generation’s sense of entitlement.

Entitlement: Will Gen Y pay their dues?

Many parents, including my own, have told their children if they want to make it in an organization, they have to start at the bottom. That theory may have had some weight years ago when most people didn’t look past high school for education. Nowadays people are becoming specialized in their training and some like myself are doing post-graduate courses. It seems foolish to think you can succeed in this day and age with just a high school diploma. Sure there are some very successful (and rich) exceptions, but for the most part college/university is the new high school; you need it to get anywhere.

This specialization that Gen Yers such as myself get in school allow us to bring more to the table than the generations before us. Personally, my college education has given me hands-on experience which I find is much more valuable than any book can teach me in a university. In 3 1/2 months, my post-grad Corporate Communications & Public Relations program has taught me many things that range from writing press releases to planning and executing an event. I’m not saying I know everything there is to know about PR; I don’t. Anyone in my position, or at any level in the business who says they do is lying. What I’m saying is I have the beginner’s tools in place so by the time I set foot in that communications office at the start of my internship I’ll be able to hit the ground running.

This is where many Boomers and Gen Xers get the perception that my generation has that sense of entitlement. I’ve been told already that I shouldn’t be settling for the menial jobs that I’ve heard some companies give to interns. I’ve been told to have initiative and tell my manager I want to have more responsibility and not just get everyone’s coffee or photocopy documents. From personal experience I’ve seen what work I’d get when I don’t say anything to the work I receive when I speak up. I’m willing to do the menial tasks as long as I get the opportunities to prove that I can handle the important ones.

In one of the surveys the Gen Y study conducted, it noted 65 per cent of Boomers and Gen Xers think Gen Yers lack the willingness to pay their dues, where only 33 per cent of Gen Yers agreed with that statement. The study goes on to mention the older generations may be less willing to make Gen Yers pay their dues because they’re afraid of making the younger generation unhappy which could cause them to leave for another job. To retain the Gen Yers, the Boomers and Gen Xers are apparently avoiding the issues of paying dues altogether and giving the new workers more important jobs; this could create a strain in the relationships between the workers of each generation, according to the study.

Conclusion

Bringing everything back to the fact that my generation is going to school longer than previous ones means we’re starting our careers later. When I graduate I’ll be 25, and like the study says about my generation, I’ll be willing to pay my dues for a year or two before I want something more. By the time they were 25, the Boomer generation was likely working for seven (or so) years. They had time to work their way up because there was less of a rush to do so.  The study says previous generations expect Gen Yers to take the same paths they did to achieve success, but times have changed. My generation prefers to take the elevator to the top where older generations were happier taking the stairs.

The finale of my Gen Y perceptions series will be on how my generation handles feedback in the workplace.

This is my third installment discussing perceptions of myself as a Generation Y employee based on The Gen Y Perceptions Study. In my previous two posts, I discussed how my generation and I compared when it came to being tech savvy as well as casualness in the work place (dress and attitude). For this post I’ll be discussing my views on work-life balance and how I compare to the study done by those at Cal State Fullerton Career Centre and Spectrum Knowledge.

Gen Y prefers work-life balance

Where my generation looks to have a balance between work and life, the study points out that Boomers have the mentality of “Live to Work“, and Gen Xers have the “Work to Live” mindset. As someone who has been raised by Boomer parents, I can definitely say I’m not interested in the “Live to Work” frame of mind. Both of my parents have worked factory jobs the majority of their careers to support myself and my two siblings. My father hasn’t worked in a number of years due to disabilities but I can’t even envision my mother retiring in five years because she always needs to be on the go. Seeing this growing up I always reminded myself that I would make sure I got the education needed to do the career I wanted, not the one that paid the bills the easiest.

Like many other Gen Yers out there I have an appreciation of the my time outside of work. The fact that we’re more tech savvy than any other generation allows us to have shorter work weeks since things can get done quicker now with new technology ( in many cases anyway). As I mentioned in the first post of this series, we don’t want to spend our time at work if we’re done everything that was asked of us.

With all that being said however, one of my goals when looking for an internship and eventually a full time job, will be to find somewhere that I actually care to work for. Many workers may find they’re not as willing to stay at work for longer than needed because they may not feel that connection to their job. If I’m working for an organization that meets my needs, then I’ll more than likely put in extra time and effort into getting jobs done. One quote the study pulled out from a Gen Yer was “I don’t want to be a drone for most of my life,” really stood out for me. I’ve often told people I need a job that pushes me to think and one that teaches me something new all the time, or else I’ll just become that drone.

Conclusion

The reason why myself and my generation choose to have a balanced work-life scenario is because it was instilled in us by our Boomer (in my case) parents. They’re the ones who work hard to support their life and passed down the message to their kids that they’re doing so for them to have an easier one. I’m speaking from my own personal experiences, as I’m sure each person has their own story to tell on that front, but therein lies the root of the issue. I want to have a job that lets me have a life so I can enjoy it like my parents wanted me to.

Next post (possibly after Christmas) I’ll be discussing the supposed sense of entitlement that Gen Yers have in the workplace. Until then have a Merry Christmas readers!


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I now blog at inseansopinion.com full time. Please visit me there for movie and book reviews as well as any other commentary that comes to mind.

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