It's official. Proper actual science has confirmed that the young Westerners of Generation Y (people now in their 20s) are idle, workshy loafers by comparison to their elders. They are also think that the world owes them a handsome living, having higher expectations of salary and status than their predecessors.
"With more and more GenY'ers entering the workplace, these findings provide implications for the recruitment and management of the emerging workforce," says San Diego psychologist Jean M Twenge.
Twenge and her colleagues note that many large employers have adopted different ways of dealing with the new-gen workforce:
Google offers onsite laundry and massages; eBay set aside two rooms for meditation; and KPMG now offers workers 5 weeks of paid time off during their 1st year. Other companies have tried to attract the young generation with programs that allow employees to volunteer to help others during work hours or that emphasize the social good behind their products or mission.
But according to the researchers' surveys, Generation Y - aka GenMe, or "the Millenials" - don't particularly care about social good or helping others. Nor are they especially excited about being able to haul a sack of dirty laundry in to work with them.
So what does work in terms of motivating and retaining today's shiftless, cold-hearted youngsters?
Funnily enough, it seems that what they want is more pay for less work.
"The combination of not wanting to work hard but still wanting more money and status verifies the sense of entitlement many have identified among GenMe," write Twenge and her co-authors. Then they get really stuck in:
Valuing leisure (eg not wanting to work overtime) while still expecting more status and compensation demonstrates a disconnect between expectations and reality, one typical of the overconfidence — not just confidence — apparent in this generation. For example, narcissistic traits have risen over the generations, and narcissism is strongly linked to overconfidence and unrealistic risk taking...
Lazy, overconfident, narcissistic little blighters, think the world owes them a living, harrumph harrumph. Twenge, indeed, loves to spout bile about "the epidemic of narcissism so corrosive to society".
Before we all rush to angrily rustle the newspaper of condemnation at the kitchen table of national debate, however, there are a couple of things one might note (the study having been carried out in the USA):
Work hours have increased significantly in the United States during the past 30 years ... Given that GenX and especially GenMe grew up witnessing these social and labor trends and enter the workforce with the expectation of increasing work hours, the need for a dual-income household, and limited vacation time, it makes sense that the value of additional leisure time is particularly strong ...
Or to put it another way, American bosses now expect their workers to put in a lot more hours than the Boomers and Generation X did - so GenMe's demands for more rewards and privileges is no more than reasonable. And with the new generation requiring at least two earners per household just to make ends meet, maybe they actually need a bit more time off than the oldsters did.
Then with the old-timers clinging ever more tenaciously to life, eating up all society's spare capacity and more with their decades of richly-pensioned retirement and medical expenses, failing to vacate their homes and so driving property prices through the roof - not to mention forcing the workers who support them into vast commutes past their conveniently-located palaces of idleness - and in general being expensive parasites, you can see why the youngsters are getting a bit stroppy.
Perhaps it's time for Twenge and her colleagues to stop hassling the kids and start picking on Western society's real problem group instead. But there wouldn't be as many books to be sold doing that, of course. ®