September 3, 2013

No Unicorns Needed: A Generation Y Counter-Study

Generation Y is not MIA like this unicorn

I hate unicorns and the rainbows they fly in on. Why this is relevant will only be discovered by reading on…

In an article we found on The Huffington Post the folks over at waitbutwhy.com pontificate on why Generation “Y” is doomed. For everyone’s benefit, Gen Y is often defined as the adult children of parents born between 1950 and 1970. (And if you are guessing that their parents are being blamed for everything, you are correct.)

On first read, I thought, “These Gen Y people are trouble!” Because, according to the article, and backed by sources we could research further, members of Generation Y suffer from both delusional laziness and a feeling of entitlement, making them a class of citizens of which employers need to be extremely wary.

Then I think about how 60% of the employees on my staff are Generation Y’ers. And I recognize how, often, they are awesome.

Of course, I feel we should factor in that I’m pretty much the best when it comes to being a boss – right? But it also bears mentioning that when it comes to work ethic, even though they may not love every moment of every day, my team of Generation Y’s chooses to work tirelessly and with self-direction. They appear to enjoy what they do. Flying in the face of the post you are about to read, they devour challenge and initiate their own long hours without me ever needing to ask. Why? Because how else would things get done?

The link below references a study that implies this can’t be true. If taken as an average representation of Gen Y, though, I would say the study is not just a little off, it’s a great example of prejudicial research and thinking. The only things missing, which would make it illegal if taken as advice for employers, are references to skin color, gender, religion, or some other protected status.

So, what’s my message?

As with all broad categorizations, if you, like me, are an employer, it’s a good idea to examine and challenge our perceptions of entire classes of potential job candidates. It’s too easy to see others as wrong just to make ourselves right. And yet taking a closer look often requires that we confirm, sometimes to our own detriment, that we are viewing others in the light of our preconceived notions and making assumptions about their capabilities.

When we do this as employers it can not only be illegal, it can cause us to pass up candidates that are the very best fit, in favor of those we are simply more comfortable with.

As I mentioned, when first reading this post I thought, “Wow, these people are trouble — I need to be on the lookout!” And then I heard my grandfather’s voice, saying something about “the problem with young people…” and without realizing it, an errant blog post linked on The Huffington Post about how and why Generation Y sucks had aged me 20 years. And that’s unfortunate, because while hiring the right people for your dental or medical practice definitely takes planning and care, it can’t be reduced to a formula based on who Grandpa would hire.

Here’s a link to the article, and it’s easy to be charmed by the stick figures…but if taken as an average, the portrait of Gen Y is a similarly crude sketch. And my employees, at least, have yet to ask for unicorn parking.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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