Guest Post by Mike Doman

I was recently talking to a friend of mine who claimed he would never hire a “Gen Y.”

My friend is a fairly senior PR pro in a reasonably high profile company, and his attitude astounded me. When I queried why, he identified a few areas.

I will now lay these out for you, and (as a Gen Y myself) rebut them:

1. Lack of work ethic.

This is out-and-out wrong. My generation has the same number of slackers v. motivated people as Gen X and the Baby Boomers.

To paint all Gen Y’s as unmotivated is an insult to every one of my friends and colleagues who bust their backsides every day to get somewhere.

Add the fact that we’re constantly connection to work and friends simultaneously means that we’re likely to work off the clock.

2. They want everything now.

Since when was ambition a bad thing? There’s a common misconception that our “wanting everything now” attitude means that we’re not prepared to work for it, or we’re going to throw a tantrum if we can’t get it, which is rubbish.

Sure, we want to climb the corporate ladder, and we want to do it quickly.

But that is born out of ambition, not an unwillingness to work for it.

3. They want to do things differently.

Um. If it was a Gen X or a Baby Boomer that wanted to do things differently, you’d call it innovation.

Ezra Pound put it nicely when he said, “when two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

Is it so bad that someone new in the organization will try to institute change?

Image by Chris Devers, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

4. They’re too self-centred.

Another rubbish claim, in my opinion. Just because I want to listen to my iPod at work, or dress casually when I can, doesn’t mean that I’m a bad worker.

It means that over the years and years of schooling that I’ve suffered through to get a job, I’ve worked out how I work best.

If that means my productivity increases when I work at odd hours, or listen to a few tunes while I work, why wouldn’t you take the productivity increase and be happy?

I am an individual, and my way of working comes from my own experience. Stifling my ability to work also stifles my ability to be productive and leaves me frustrated.

Which brings me to my next point…

5. No Loyalty to Employers.

This has an element of truth to it, though not in the degrees to which it’s often played.

I’m loyal to my employer. My employer takes good care of me.

My parents grew up in an era of mixed economic conditions, and learnt the value of staying in one place (or in some cases, the insignificance).

My generation has been through unprecedented prosperity (with the exception of the global financial crisis, which didn’t affect Australia too much), and realize that if we have the skills, moving around can be beneficial.

But the moving around doesn’t happen if we’re happy. We move because we need a change, we’re unhappy or we aren’t feeling challenged.

We won’t have a job for the sake of having a job, especially when there are other jobs with more opportunity out there. Sure, we’ll reach a point when our economy tanks and unemployment skyrockets, and we’ll get stung from that.

But while the going is good, we’re going to make the most of it.

The workplace isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago.

It won’t be the same 20 years from now, and perhaps then I’ll be writing about Generation Z and how fat, lazy and awful they are.

I hope I don’t end up that jaded and cynical, preferring to look at opportunity gained than opportunity lost, but maybe if it’s fashionable and “in,” I’ll succumb to the demonizing and patronizing of a generation, as many in the generations before me have done.

I’m not hugely critical of generations gone, but I am passionate about mine.

I’m constantly being reminded that Generation Y needs to earn respect, and I completely agree with that.

But we’re trying, and we aren’t getting a willingness to accept in return.

Mike Doman is an Account Executive at Mulberry Marketing Communications in Melbourne, Australia. In between media calls and writing press releases, he does the occasional guest lecture for RMIT and has guest-written for Australian publications including The National Timesand, along with publishing his own (non-PR) blog, Sporadically Pensive. He has also sat on the admissions panel for RMIT’s Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) and tweets about everything from Masterchef to media relations.