Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies.

Gen Y might not seem so lazy when they take your jobs

GENERATION Y is coming for your seat at the boardroom table.

The changes between one generation and the next have never been so pronounced.

We - those born between 1981 and 1994 -- are the truest form of those "damn kids", who don't understand how things were so different in your day.

When we cut our way through university and landed in our first jobs from the early 2000s.

That's when we started making the bosses a little nervous.

We wanted it all, we wanted it now and we were ready to walk if it started taking too long.

All the while, the headlines bleated that Gen Y was ruining everything.

Now it has been 10 years since we took our first steps into the professional world and plenty of our managers are still a little nervous.

Celebrity chef has a whinge about
Celebrity chef has a whinge about "lazy" Generation Y workers, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The bleating returned this week as celebrity chef Luke Mangan said Gen Y were "lazy" because they didn't want to work 80 hours a week. They now started "looking at their watch" once they hit the 38-hour mark.

From the yarn:

'You do not learn a profession by taking short cuts or just doing the hours you have to do,' Mr Mangan said.

I wonder if he pays them for working those hours, or whether he complains that these "lazy" Gen Ys are too expensive to keep on the books.

Maybe they are looking at their watches because they're working a second job.

If they want to live within 50km of Mangan's Salt in Sydney, they will need to cough up at least $50,000 as a deposit on a unit. If they need a 20% deposit, push that up to $100,000.

If you want a house, hopefully your parents are wealthy enough to throw you a few (hundred thousand) bucks.


Time Magazine cover
Time Magazine cover

The threat of sacking, cut hours or redundancy looms large for this generation. It will loom even larger for the next.

We have learned how to be agile in the job market.

I remember at my first job as a journalist, I had a strategy in case I was suddenly put out of work.

What if my probationary period was cut short What if I pissed off the wrong executive.

I secretly backed up my work to my iPod, fearing that a dismissal would mean no access to my archives.

We are wired into job alerts from around the country. Our resumes are up to date. Just in case.

Generation Y has grown more ruthless, more demanding and more aggressive than older peers. And why not?

Young people make up 40% of all Australian jobless.

Many of us are prepared to fight long and hard before we risk ending up a tally on an ABS chart.

We have LinkedIn, contact books and know how to network.

Despite the country still being ruled mostly by boomers and Gen Xers, it is the Gen Ys who face a shocking jobless rate.

Could it be that the employment market has shifted?

Could it be that our elders have delivered us a raw deal, destroying those safety nets designed to keep young people through the cracks?

No. Apparently we're just flakey.

We're also too pushy, in too much of a rush.

Nonsense. Asking for what we want isn't about arrogance, it's a mixture of ambition and fear.

The world that employers tell us to strive for no longer exists.

As Eleanor Robertson wrote in The Guardian:

Born into a bizarro world controlled by baby boomers who have comprehensively shafted us, it's a credit to our resilience and adaptability that we've managed to get this far at all.

We've been dealt a terrible hand, but because we don't know any different many of us just chug along day by day.

This generation is fast approaching the tipping point of surpassing middle management.

Soon we'll populate the tiers above and below.

There will come a time when this generation of workers, taught to scrape, compete and battle for every payrise and every kind word, will take hold of the levers.

If you're still picking on the younger characters in the office, it could be time for a change in attitude.

One of those levers could control that trapdoor you're standing on.

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Author Owen Jacques
Owen Jacques is an award-winning journalist with APN Australian Regional Media and creator of The Hairy Chest. Peter Broelman