Touted as a generation of forward thinking, technology and multitasking, Generation Y can certainly bring some positive attributes to the workplace.
Unfortunately, they've also been coddled and spoiled, told they're each a unique and special snowflake. And they expect to be treated as such. The members of Generation Y with whom I've had contact have failed to display anything but laziness and self-involvement.
I first noticed this when I waited tables a few years ago. Many of the busboys and hostesses stood around, ignored customers and dirty tables, and escaped to the break room to talk on their cell phones rather than work. None of the servers was pleased to tip them at the end of the night after we'd had to clean our own tables.
About two years ago, I was at the checkout in a hardware store. The cashier, a boy of 16 or 17, talked on his cell phone during the entire transaction. No greeting. No "thank you." I did, however learn that he was talking to his father, who was irate that the kid had been arrested the night before.
A few weeks ago, I was standing at a customer service counter. Two clerks in their late 30s were extremely busy, and people were lined up at the counter. A group of three teens was just standing around, arms folded. One was talking on her cell phone. Finally one of the older clerks said her name. She moved the cell phone away from her mouth and gave him a pouty "what do you want" look.
"Are you on the clock?" he asked her. She nodded.
"You're not on break?" he asked.
"No," she replied in a snotty teenage voice.
"Then off the cell phone. We need your help."
She ended her conversation and proceeded to stand in the huddle of teens with her arms crossed. She made no move to help the other clerks or do any kind of work.
I'm 33; I remember my teen years. I was moody and difficult — at home. My parents would have beaten the life out of me if I behaved the way these kids do at work, school, in public. I had my rebellious years. When I was 18, my parents told me to find another place to live when they'd had enough of my antics. But then I had to work and keep a job to pay rent and eat. And I was a hardworking, thorough employee and made sure not to piss off my employers.
Not this younger generation, though. They seem to think an employer should pay them just for making an appearance. They expect a paycheck; they don't want to work for it.
This behavior is not limited to Generation Y teens. Gen Y adults are just as self-centered and lazy. They are working good jobs that they should consider careers but instead view them as jobs for a few years until they move on. There's no dedication, no devotion, no work ethic.
My most recent experience with Generation Y is a new employee in my department. She's 27. My company offers flex time, which she apparently thinks means "part time." After two-and-a-half months, she has yet to work a full, eight-hour day.
Despite our efforts to welcome and include her, she refuses to integrate with the rest of the group; she won't partake in any discussions, she never says hi or good morning or good-bye. She's like a ghost: pretty much nonexistent except when she occasionally coughs. She's not shy — in the few discussions I've had with her, she's not mousy or passive. She has yet to ask a question about what our company's software products do. I don't think she even knows what our company does.
The department is outraged for two reasons: First, where does she get off thinking she can work less than 30 hours a week and still receive full pay and benefits? Second, if you divide her salary by the number of hours she actually works, she's making more per hour than some of us who have been with the company a number of years. Apparently she thinks she deserves a fat paycheck regardless of whether she does any work or stays a full day.
I recently had a conversation with my siblings about the laziness of Generation Y. They're 28 and 29 — born in the last two years of Generation X. They are both hard workers with good jobs they consider careers. They don't expect their employers to just hand them a paycheck; they work for their money.
My brother pointed out that although Generation Y are lousy workers, Gen X started it; Gen X produced the first of the lazy workers. He's right, I suppose. But if the increase in laziness between Generations X and Y is an indication of what's to come with future generations, how will companies find employees who will actually work?
Would it go so far as to demand a form of neo-slavery, where companies would purchase employees and beat and starve them to force them to work? That may sound outrageous, but is it really? Generation Y may be able to punch text messages into their cell phones faster than members of older generations, but what happens in the future when a generation stops contributing to society?