Generation Y’s newfound workplace expectations

By Kyle Rich

Many college graduates ask themselves what factors into their dream job, including location, job security, health benefits and being able to upload memes during office hours.

The Connected World Technology Report from Cisco, an Internet and network provider, gives some insight into what Millennials find important in the workplace. The report, which surveyed 2,800 college students and recent graduates, showed surprising results. Two-thirds of college students will ask about social media policies during job interviews, and 56 percent will not accept a job from a company that bans social media. One-third said the freedom to use social media, work on the computer of their choice and have flexible work hours are more important than salary. While 70 percent think it’s unnecessary to be regularly in the office, only 25 percent think productivity increases if they work from home.

These expectations seem a tad unrealistic. When did we become so entitled? With the economy as uncertain as a Chicago winter, I think we should be happy to simply get hired in our respective fields and refrain from walking out of a job interview because we can’t tweet on company time.

Sure, we want to stay connected to the world outside the office, but where is the line between work and play? Would I be happy if my social media privileges were taken away tomorrow? No. But I’ll admit I would have had this commentary turned to my editors about three hours ahead of deadline if I wasn’t within arm’s reach of an Internet connection and an iPhone.

So let’s say we get past the hurdle of not only finding a job that suits our qualifications, but also one that fits our needs. As we begin to enter the workforce, there will be a huge turnover rate. Approximately 50 percent of baby boomers and 25 percent of Generation Y workers currently make up the labor market, but those numbers will flip by the end of the decade, according to a report from Knoll, an office furnishing company.

Millennials say an engaging workplace is more important than adequate conference rooms, while baby boomers say the exact opposite. Gen Y doesn’t show a need for face-to-face meetings and likes integrating technology with interaction. Baby boomers like to keep work and home separate. As technology advances, it will become easier to accommodate these preferences, but appeasing one side of this spectrum could cause confusion. Putting workers of varying age groups side by side and implementing new policies to boost morale seems like it

could backfire.

It puts gray hairs on my head to say this, but I don’t need a yoga break to do good work in an office. Give me black coffee and a desk with no distractions so I can hammer out my work and get the hell out of the office to enjoy what’s left of the day.

We all would like a loose, relaxed work environment, but at what cost? Members of Generation Y suffer greatly from underemployment and are taking low-paying jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree. More than half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, according to Millennial Branding, a research and management consulting firm. Although more than 63 percent of Gen Y workers have a bachelor’s degree, the most popular jobs among Millennials are in retail and cellphone sales—jobs that anyone with a high school degree and a little bit of patience could easily obtain. Is it that we can’t find jobs that suit our degrees, or can we not step up to the plate and accept the regulations of a grown-up job?

Sure, we are more or less expected to attend college, but now that we have these new workplace expectations, maybe students should rethink when to pursue their higher education. Perhaps

20 years down the line, it will be the norm to start college later in life.

I am among millions who have gone straight from high school to college. As my own graduation date looms, the prospect of working for a year or two until finding a clearer definition of what I want out of life doesn’t sound so bad.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that work is called work for a reason. I know when I get home at the end of the day, work is the last thing I think about until I wake up the next morning. Yeah, work can suck, but with home being so great, why blend the two? It’s like drenching yourself in cologne after getting sprayed by a skunk.