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Starting / Choosing a career

Why ‘idle’ Gen Y have the right idea

Gen Y (those born in the 1980s) are in the firing line from older generations who see them as idle and entitled. But this Gen Xer thinks they are going to change the world for the better.

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Some peers of mine in managerial positions are mystified by the attitude of their younger employees. “It’s like herding cats!” moans my mate Dave. “They want to work their own hours, or from home! And they all but ignore our office dress code.”

Sounds like me when I was an employee; the only difference is I would never have had the guts to challenge my boss. I wish I’d had their chutzpah!

I’ve a great deal of admiration, too, for the way ‘Milennial’ workers aren’t afraid to be professionally promiscuous. The term ‘slash careers’ describes someone with one or more interests. Someone may describe themselves as a photographer-slash-bookkeeper, for instance. In my day, that person would claim they were a bookkeeper, and when pushed they may reveal a side interest in photography and when pushed further they’d most likely admit that photography is where their heart is. Young’uns now are more open about their dual (or multiple!) roles and desires. I really respect that.

Gen Y have a different approach to entrepreneurship, too. It used to be that succeeding as an entrepreneur meant building a big business. Whereas Drew, a Millennial commenter on this piece in Inc magazine (which I read after having the idea for this article – honest) says “I don’t want millions, just to live comfortably. I want to enjoy my wife and kids, my friends. Life is more than work, and if I can create a company that … gives me time to pursue other passions … then that’s what I’m going to go for.”

"Young’uns now are more open about their dual (or multiple!) roles and desires. I really respect that."

Want more articles like this? Check out the choosing a career section.

The author of the Inc article, Norm Brodsky says “Members of the post-Millennial generation won’t wait until they already have jobs before starting businesses. They’ll be planning for their independence from the get-go.”

How inspiring is that?

When I look to the future, I see a dextrous and able bunch of people who devote a decent amount of time to work they enjoy. They also devote plenty of time to their family, friends and communities. They’re judged by their output, not by the hours they’re at a desk (or ‘facetime’). Work may get produced from home, or in offices, alone or in collaboration, depending on what suits.

In other words, I see the solo revolution Robert and I predicted in 2005 come to full fruition.

And viva that revolution! It’s in great hands.

Do you agree Gen Y are setting themselves up for a brighter future?

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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