Gen Ys are just about the worst thing to ever happen to the workforce, and perhaps society. If you believe the stereotype, that is.
A US study published in April surveyed the web and reported that Gen Y (born between 1981 and 2000) are typecast as entitled brats who are apathetic, selfish and impatient, hooked on brain-dead TV and big budget movies.
Add to that an out-of-control addiction to smartphones and social media and a sorry picture emerges.
It only gets worse once you put them in the workforce. A survey of 1,000 managers last year in the US found that almost half think their Gen Y employees lazy, easily distractible and have unrealistic expectations.
Y’s negatives are positive
Jack Delosa is an award-winning Gen Y entrepreneur and author who freely admits these so-called flaws.
“All of the criticism that is directed at Gen Y is true. We are impatient, we do want to be at the top in five minutes, we do have incredible amounts of self-belief and we do want to make money in the easiest fashion possible.”
But none of this is actually bad, he says. In fact, it makes Gen Y employees highly desirable.
“Generation Y are the most entrepreneurial generation we have ever seen,” Mr Delosa says. “You have an entire generation with the combination of impatience, self-belief and self-motivation.”
The entrepreneurial generation
After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce at the height of the global financial crisis, Mr Bruty found it impossible to get a graduate job.
“Every time I went for an interview or got close, they’d say I needed experience, which is quite funny when you’re a graduate and don’t have any experience.”
So instead he honed his skills on a small farming business in Warrnambool, in regional Victoria.
He then applied for and won a spot in the Bakers Delight’s Manage to Own program.
After a 12-month training course, Mr Bruty was able to save enough money to buy his very own bakery franchise just over a year ago.
“I always wanted to run my own business at some stage in my life. I thought I would probably be around 40-odd when I had experience and capital behind me, but I thought I would give it a go.”
Now, all of Mr Bruty’s eight employees are Gen Y, and he doesn’t give any credence to the negative stereotypes.
Far from being lazy, he thinks Gen Y simply works smarter, not harder.
“I think we’re being more efficient and more productive, and it probably looks like we’ve got more time on our hands because we’re able to find shortcuts and multitask a little bit better than the older generation.”
The tech savvy advantage
Nick Bell is managing director of Web Marketing Experts, which has offices in Australia and globally.
Not a single one of Mr Bell’s employees is from the Baby Boomer generation. All of them are aged between 25 and 35.
Amazingly, the head of his Singapore office is only 21 years old.
“It hasn’t been by choice,” Mr Bell says. “It’s just that they’re best suited for the role, I’ve found, because they know the digital space, they grew up with the Internet.”
“The very good ones have a sense of urgency. They work fast, they pick up things very quickly, whereas I sometimes find others a little bit older, particularly in the digital space, taking a little bit longer to pick things up.”
Of course, not all Gen Ys are so exemplary.
“It stems from the person. Some have a strong work ethic, and some do not,” he says.
The key, according to Mr Bell, is weeding out those who don’t want to work hard.
“I’ve been employing people for about six years, and what I’ve found is that you have your very excellent employees, and then you have your ones who aren’t so good,” Mr Bell says. “I don’t think it’s just the Gen Y. I think it’s over the whole spectrum.”