Who are we?

Washington, D.C.


With graduation season now behind us, there’s been an onslaught of stories recently about Gen Yers entering the workforce. Let’s take a quick look at a couple of them:

Fortune tackles the issue with its cover story, “Manage Us? Puh-leeze” about how we (that is, those born to Boomer parents between 1977 and 1995) are increasingly moving back home (read my, ahem, Hatch story here), asking employers for more money and perks, and, the biggie, expecting more from our jobs. And, when we don’t feel fulfilled, mentored or appreciated, we leave.

Perhaps it has something to do with the way in which the generation was raised – reporter Nadira Hira describes us as “self-absorbed, gregarious, multitasking, loud, optimistic, pierced” – but the attitude and sense of entitlement is increasingly presenting problems for companies who need to retain young workers (some 64 million skilled workers will retire by 2010). But how do they do this?

The New York Times explains. Google is a fantastic case study in how companies can attract Millennials through innovative and creative recruiting events, like cocktails parties, technology lectures and treasure hunts. It might be out of necessity (they’re hiring 500 workers a month in direct competition with Microsoft and, more often, other start-ups), but they’re obviously doing something right: they were considered the most desirable employer for both undergrads and M.B.A.’s this year.

Not everyone agrees with the Gen Y hoopla. Peter Carlson of the Wash Post takes the Fortune feature to town, calling it “mostly piffle” filled with “six pages of dubious generalizations written in whiz-bang biz-mag prose.” Most poignantly, he dissects why today’s young workers show little loyalty to the companies they work for. Is it because they’re too, well, “self-absorbed?”

Au contraire: “Given the performance of American corporations lately – the layoffs, the rip-offs, the accounting scandals, the outsourcing – what rational human would put loyalty to his company over loyalty to himself and his family?”

It’s a good question. I’m going to check Wikipedia for the answer.

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