Monday, March 8, 2010

Gen Y: To Infinity and Beyond!

Here I am, it's Monday morning and I'm a Gen Y representative (Gen Y = 18-32 year-olds) that has just been given the opportunity to explain what it is that makes me tick in the workplace. I'll start with an illustration …Word just froze up and my blood pressure jumped through the roof as my inner voice exclaimed, "WHY! Why is this happening to ME?" I'm ashamed to tell you how much time this minor obstacle cost me. It took about 45 seconds out of my day. Also of note, when Word initially froze up I continued typing my paragraph in stubborn defiance of its programming glitch. Word had stopped working, my words were not displaying on the screen, and still my finger tips danced across my keyboard as I composed my invisible blog.

My Gen Y world is intense and promising; it's quick, it progresses constantly, and there's always something new on the horizon. My world does not have time for Word programs that want to take 45 seconds to restart. Why? Because the world is always advancing and gratification is immediate. I probably sound spoiled, but if you stand back and look at all that formed during my formative years, my expectations no longer seem strange.

My childhood started with a phone that had a cord, gave busy signals, and did not have an answering machine. It did not stay that way long. We soon got our first cordless phone, with call-waiting, and an answering machine. Eventually, the cordless phone just wasn't enough and I upgraded to a cell phone. There was a time when my food warmed on the stove or in a toaster oven, but the addition of our new microwave oven soon made such practices seem primitive. My music first came from records, and then transitioned to tapes, which were followed quickly by CDs. CDs reigned briefly before Napster and iPods. My VHS Disney movies turned into DVDs in what seemed like the blink of an eye. My Apple computer was introduced as a device on which I could play learning games, such as Oregon Trail and Math Munchers. Almost as soon as I learned how to use our Apple, my parents purchased an IBM with Windows. My dial up AOL e-mail changed to Instant Messenger. Instant Messenger progressed into MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype. I have never typed an important paper without the assistance of spell-check or the convenience of a printer. For my generation, change isn't just good; it's the pulse of life.

So what happens to members of Gen Y as they experience their very first recession? Recession is defined by to be a period of two quarters of negative GDP growth. Negative growth??? Can you sense my fear and confusion? I don't even understand what business those two words have sharing the same sentence.

A Gen Y member has no grasp of negative growth. From our perspective growth is always positive and progressive. Gen Y is a team generation of optimism and advancement. We have a difficult time with concepts such as restarts and cutbacks. Our worst fear is stagnation, because we simply don't know what it is. We firmly believe that each of us is unique and that teamwork paired with hard work will always lead to success. That being said, Gen Y employees might be exactly the push that your organization needs to get through these struggling economic times. The good news for business owners is that we long to be motivated, taught, and utilized. Once we hear that the team needs us, we're signed up, and we have our eye on the prize.

The key to engaging and retaining your Gen Y employees during this strenuous time is showing them your hunger for advancement and a "we can get through this together" attitude. Offer to be our mentors, share company successes with us, and show us that you are interested in large scale growth. Large scale growth to a Gen Y member includes growth inside and outside of the company. We want to know that you care about community growth, the preservation of our environment, and the welfare of our families. Most importantly, we don't want promises, we want results. We need to be acknowledged, contributors to growth. We are a connected generation that wants the opportunity to share successes and growth with our company, our community, and our families.

As I said in the beginning, we are an intense generation. Your goal as a company should be to find ways to harness and direct that intensity. Your Gen Y employees do not understand negative growth. Just as I kept typing this blog even after Word had frozen up, your Gen Y employees are still striving even after they've been told things are grim. Your Gen Y employees need to know that you see them striving and that there are new opportunities just around the corner. Keep our world of growth a world of positive growth and we will stay with you for the long haul.

Regina Gormanly
29 year veteran of Gen Y
Client Success Coordinator
Escoe Bliss Professional Resources


  1. Negative Growth (from an Economics Major) is, essentially, a made up term that could just as easily come from a Dr. Suess book as from where it originated...some whiny government weeny attempting to defend the theory that government spending actually creates jobs. Positive Growth is economic growth that results from the expansion of private sector investment (i.e. production of some good or service which has a watershed effect by not only creating profits for one company but by creating additional jobs and profits as it rolls along from person to person). Because government does not produce one dollars worth of goods or services, any "growth" is short lived because the dollars used to pay those salaries are from taxes already paid by folks like us. When government spends tax dollars or even worse, borrows trillions to create jobs, there is not geometric expansion of those dollars creating additional jobs thru new products and services. Those borrowed tax dollars pay for one job, one time. That is why you can have high unemployment (like the 10% we have now) and some appearance that the job losses are slowing...because government is paying for one job but no expansion by creating goods and services which create more jobs and more profits and more taxes. Negative growth is when we spend tax dollars to create jobs, knowing those are stagnant dollars which must be repaid by us (at some point) back to the government (but most likely) it will be our grandkids who will be required to pay it back. Easier concept...the government is borrowing money from each of us to pay for dead-end government jobs, and the money borrowed to pay ourselves (i.e. those out of work folks who get the new government jobs) will be repaid to the government by our children or grandchildren...and if they can't repay it then countries like Japan and China that own more than half of our debt can foreclose on the United States.

  2. Great blog entry Regina! As I fellow Gen Y, I do think that companies should embrace our intensity and our progressive thinking. This type of passion and creativity can definitely get many companies out of this slump!