The Myth of the 20-something Worker

I recently wrote about how 20-somethings are viewed as lazy in the workforce and how I disagreed with that view. Here is a great illustration of that stereotype (and everyone knows how much I love cartoons dealing with youth employment/unemployment).

Youth Employment Cartoon

Now, I’ve found an article that has research to back up my view of the 20-something worker.

Millennial workers (or Generation Y), who have often been depicted as a unique and hard-to-manage generation, have the same attitudes as previous generations at the same stages of their life, according to Kenexa.Kenexa’s study reveals that in 2009, 31% of 27-year-old millennials were considering leaving their organisation. But nearly two decades earlier, in 1990, 31% of 27-year-olds (now Generation X) were also considering leaving.

A further 42% of Gen Y say they are paid fairly, compared to 41% of baby boomers and 38% of Generation X. The research finds that millennials are also more satisfied with their organisation as a place to work and with the opportunities they have for growth and development, compared to their older colleagues. They are also more positive about the recognition they personally receive and more satisfied with the job security provided by their organisation.

I know there are horror stories about lazy 20-somethings who are whiny and lazy and I have to say I know a few of those myself. However, this research proves that the average Gen Y worker is very similar to 20-something workers in previous generations.There were also plenty of whiny and lazy workers in previous generations.

I’m not sure how we 20-somethings got such a bad rap. Apparently, it’s because we were spoiled growing up in a great economy. However, we lived through Sept. 11th and the subsequent war on terror. Now, our economy has tanked and we are facing the highest debt our country has ever faced.

My generation is going to have to pay for all of this. Please give us a chance to start doing that.

The young people I have worked around recently are highly motivated, energetic and excited to be employed in general. They don’t take anything for granted unlike some of seasoned professionals I have observed who seem to feel they can just rest on their laurels.

I think that employers should re-evaluate their opinions of us unemployed 20-somethings and take a chance on us! I have a feeling that you won’t be dissapointed.


4 responses to “The Myth of the 20-something Worker

  • Sarah on Stem Cells

    I love this. I’ve been working hard since I was 15 and I never complained!

  • GhostRider

    In other words, nothing has changed – in regards to a generations perspective on another generation. Which is why when a parent gets shocked by their kids I always tell them, “Get off it. Have forgotten the things you pulled off as a kid.”

    BTW…when it comes to employers re-evaluating their opinions of you unemployed 20-somethings and taking a chance on you. When the time and need comes to fill in all those positions that millions lost to this depression, you guys will be hired to do what we were doing. I am not saying this grudgingly as it just the capitalistic way – they will pay you half or less than what we were currently making to pull it off and you will do it happily.

    Like I said before, this is not a “killer” for unemployed 20-somethings because even if it were to last a decade a in some degree or other, you’d still be a young 30-something, but it is a killer for us as that would makes us an old 60-something.

    In the mean time you need to strip down to bare minimum living and ride it out. Forget about paying for things like cable TV (watch the networks) – get a no frills cell where you pay no more than 40-50 bucks for unlimited time – forget about clubs that charge a cover to get in and take a flask so you only buy one drink – find a lot of things to do outdoors that are free, beaches, bike riding, window shopping – use librarys, campuses, McDonalds, etc. instead of paying for WIFI.


    PS…. i know it’s hard but you need to switch to a “cash and carry” lifestyle even when you become employed. Get rid of credit cards. As an unemployed Architect that is the one thing that saved me. More than a decade ago I gave them all up so when this disaster hit, I did not owe a penny. Even when I wanted a motorcycle in excess of 10gs, I saved and paid for it in cash

  • Options Trading Tutorial

    I think if your generation can avoid the trappings of debt you will do much better than my generation (X).

  • missdisplaced

    I don’t think 20-somethings are lazy or whiny, at least not any more so than 20-somethings from any other generation except perhaps for the ones that went off to fight WWII. There are standouts and sluggards in any cohort.

    Yes, they are generally happy when they first start working… it’s a first full-time job making some real $$$ after school. Of course they are happy. But like anything that will fade in time… trust me. You work a good 25+ some years (for me it’s been from age 14 till 44 already!) and the cynicism will set in. I’ve seen companies close, paychecks bounce, bosses sexually harass and bully, and owners embezzle: I’ve experienced lies, backstabbing, firings, layoffs, outsourcing, and deaths, though so far fortunately no office shootings.

    I hope the young generation sees that material things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. At least you guys are not shoved in after the huge Boomer nation and forgotten about.

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