Yesterday I made the mistake of watching a video of Penelope Trunk giving a speech about Gen-Yers in the workplace. The same now-cliche stuff about managing 20-somethings: don’t expect them to “pay dues” because they’ll walk if they have to do grunt work like other generations had to; keep them motivated with treats or special incentives every day or they’ll walk; don’t hassle them if they seem to be doing nothing but listening to iPods and web-surfing all day or they’ll walk. In short, treat them with kid gloves because they are so spectacular that we can’t afford to piss them off. The rationale being that they’re soon going to be overtaking the workforce so we better just let them have their way.
First of all, bullshit. As far as the whole “soon all the Boomers will be retiring” thing–I think everyone knows that is no longer a valid sentiment, what with the state of the economy. Anyone who was even close to retiring a year ago is now most likely looking at another 10+ years in the workforce before they might be able to even consider retiring. And second of all, bullshit–even if they do retire there are still droves of Gen-Xers who are unemployed and willing–not to mention well-qualified–to do the jobs Gen-Yers scoff at. After all, if you have a mortgage, a car payment, credit card debt, kids, a spouse, etc–you don’t have the luxury of hiding out in mom and dad’s basement until you find a job that pays six figures and consists of one never-ending brainstorming session while hanging out in a treehouse or some equally cool and laid-back work environment.
Enter the blog post that set me off on this rant. Penelope Trunk has a guest poster on her blog today–a 23 year old writing about why it’s smart to quit a job after just two weeks of work. The crux of her rationale being, of course, the tenet upon which the entire Gen-Y work philosophy is based: living with mom n’ dad. After all, 65% of new grads do it–so of course it’s a good idea.
I digress about the rest of the post; you can read it yourself. And don’t miss the comments–those are some of the best parts. Here’s one of my favorites:
“I quit a job after two weeks too, but I don’t believe the company felt I was doing them a favor. (I was, as indicated in the post.) They are not contemplative enough to consider the possibility that they did something – actually, many things – wrong.”
Like forgetting the daily reward or making you spend time at the copier?
“Companies are no more likely than individual people to improve their attitudes or practices when something negative happens.”
The “something negative” of course being that the lazy, self-centered entry level person left of his own free will, thereby sparing the company the considerable time, money and hassle it would have taken to fire that person had they and their bad attitude stayed in the job.
Call me a bitter Gen-Xer if you want–I have no problem owning that. And I’m not even one to talk about sticking it out in jobs–I’m the first to admit my resume is filled with jobs that I stayed in for a year before deciding I couldn’t stand it and found something better. However, one thing I can say is that I always found a better job, always had health-insurance paid for by me–not my parents–and moving back in with them was never an option.
I’ve asked this in previous posts: where has the stereotype of the adult loser who lives in his parents’ house gone? Have 20-somethings never seen Wedding Crashers? Stepbrothers? Failure to Launch? Call it what you will: saving money, being prudent, giving yourself the opportunity to wait for the perfect job–the fact remains that being 20- or–god-forbid–30-something and living with your parents is nothing to brag about.