It is difficult to pinpoint exactly who is in Generation Y. Some say it’s everyone born between 1970 and 1990, but I don’t think anyone who was old enough to actually understand the adult jokes on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and ALF should be included, as well as anyone who was too young to look forward to Full House and Perfect Strangers on Friday nights.
So while different sources will say varying years, I am aiming at the group that was born between 1975 and 1985.
We were born during the years of Star Wars, Apple, and Nintendo. We saw the last generation of good cartoons, where My Little Ponies and Rainbow Brite had their place next to Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
We were forced to do soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring, unless you were in gymnastics, karate or dance, because those sports went all year.
Our parents had us multi-tasking and competing to be the best at very young ages.
Our parents believed that all we needed was a college education, and we could be anything we wanted. Maybe they wanted us all to be the rich, successful yuppies they saw on TV all the time. The problem was that once we got to high school, we realized that nearly everyone was going to college. To distinguish ourselves, we set our own goals and our own high standards.
We are the over-achieving, high-maintenance, high-tech, and high-performance generation.
We’re not just “Keeping up with the Jones,” we are finding ways to be superior in every way possible and designing apps to brag about our victories.
We love ourselves. And we want everyone else to know how awesome we are. So we tell them on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and countless blogging sites (thanks, WordPress).
Our generation is not afraid to challenge the status quo, asking not only “Why” but “Why can’t we come up with a better solution?”
Most of us are now into our careers and are at early or middle-management levels, but in 20 years, we will be the CEO’s. We will finally be making the rules. And when we are, we will know exactly how to run a company, treating our employees as we had always wanted to be treated.
Profits won’t be the number one drive, because we will have spent decades perfecting methods of efficiency, innovation and marketing. To us jobs have never been just a means to earn paychecks. We are passionate about what we do, and we are sure to do it well.
We will ask that our employees come to work with the same respect and drive that we do, and that’s all we will ask of them.
And for a job well done, our employees will enjoy benefits like minimum four weeks of vacation, flexible schedules, telecommuting, relaxed dress codes and Summer Fridays. There will be excellent programs for 401K matching, health care (including vision!) and tuition reimbursement. And if we can find more ways to treat our employees to free lunches, we’ll do that.
Items like this won’t just be bonuses or only exist at a few companies like Google, Adobe or IBM. They will be the standard practices.
It’s not that we just want more time off and free food. We can just see the benefits of high morale and employees actually wanting to come to work. Was the term “burnout” in the corporate world before our generation came along? Probably, but we’re the go-getters that are actually going to do something about.
We don’t need the stuffiness of ties and rigid schedules to show that we mean business. Our work speaks for itself.
From where we are now, our generation has learned to laugh at corporate humdrum. The Office is a hit show because we can relate to it. We don’t get caught up on the pomposity of pointless meetings and talking heads. To many of us, a successful conference call is one where we can accomplish five other items during the allotted time.
The minds of Generation Y are constantly engaged, thinking about solving the next problem, and creating the next way to do things faster, bigger and with more funny viral videos. Our bosses have only figured out how to harness that energy, rather than cultivate it. Which is why so many of us feel stifled, underemployed and unappreciated. To be fair, many of our bosses are haunted by the dot.com bust, so they are wary of the ever-changing technology spectrum.
So to the Baby Boomers and Generation X, thank you. You were our professors, mentors and managers. You gave us jobs. We’ve learned a lot from you. We’re happy to play by your rules as long as you’re the boss. Just know that when we take over, we’ll be doing things a bit differently. Imagine a corporate world run by Mark Zuckerbergs, Googlers and Gagas. You can take all of your corporate jargon, bullshit and TPS reports with you. Our plugged-in, turned-on minds don’t have time for that.
We’ve got three-day weekends to plan, iTunes to download, Facebook pictures to upload, and Saved By the Bell reruns to watch.