A New Generation of 'Slacker' Professionals?

Poll finds Millennials rated poorly by corporate recruiters

Companies must do a better job of hiring, appreciating and motivating younger workers or risk competitive disadvantage, warns Jobfox CEO Rob McGovern, responding to a new Jobfox poll in which Gen Y workers are perceived by recruiters as being the weakest performers among the four generations that now make up the U.S. workforce.

McGovern believes it is corporate leaders -- not Gen Y professionals -- who need attitude adjustments. Gen Y (28 years old and younger) will ultimately represent the largest population of workers since the Baby Boomers.

"Businesses must shed negative perceptions and learn new ways to incorporate Gen Y views into the workforce," he said. "The companies that succeed over the next two decades will be the ones that can most inspire Gen Y. This is the most educated and technologically savvy generation ever."

Only 20% of the recruiters surveyed classified Gen Y, also known as Millennials, as "generally great performers." This compares to 63% of the recruiters polled who said Baby Boomers (43 to 62 years old) were great performers, 58% who gave high marks to Gen X (29 to 42) and 25% for Traditionalists (63 and older).

Gen Y was also classified as "generally poor performers" by the largest number of recruiters polled. Thirty percent of recruiters classified Millennials as poor performers, followed by 22% of recruiters who classified Traditionalists as poor performers, 5% for Gen X and 4% for Baby Boomers.

"Once you begin to understand them, Gen Y is a very impressive group of workers," said McGovern, author of Bring Your 'A' Game: The 10 Career Secrets of the High Achiever. "Just as we saw workplace changes made to accommodate Baby Boomers and Gen X, I foresee major changes ahead for companies that want to get the most out of our youngest workers."

McGovern cites four major motivators for Millennials at work:

  • The new reward is balance. Gen Y doesn't understand the rigidity of the 9-to-5 work week created by Baby Boomers. Millennials work best when they can set their own hours to get work accomplished. Flexible schedules are highly coveted by younger workers.
  • Keep them cutting-edge. Millennials understand, better than any other generation before them, that everything becomes quickly obsolete, including skills. Companies must do a better job at providing new learning experiences for Gen Y or they will seek new opportunities elsewhere.
  • Don't treat them as junior anything. "This is a generation that was taught that everyone is special, that everyone gets a trophy -- win or lose," McGovern said. "They won't be satisfied working inside the corporate machine. They want to contribute immediately and companies must do a better job of helping younger workers see how their work is important and how what they do relates to the overall goals of the company."
  • Provide stability. Counter to what many think, Gen Y workers are loyal team players as long as they can balance work and life goals, gain new learning opportunities and feel a part of company goals. In a recent JWT survey, for example, 60% of Gen Yers agreed that an employee owes loyalty to their employer.

"Gen Y lives in a world of 'code orange' and constant news alerts crawling across the bottom of their flat-screen televisions," McGovern said."Theyve also carefully watched as their parents turned the word 'downsized' into a verb. They have a different view of the American dream. I think we'll see major workplace changes in the decades ahead, led by a new generation of leaders and by companies that want to win by attracting and keeping the best people."

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