Say what!? Gen Y employees bring great expectations to work

Perez Hilton, who? d-listed, what? And what in the world does “OMG” mean? If you’re feeling out of touch with workers from younger generations at the office, you’re not alone.

A new survey by points to more pronounced generational gaps in communication styles and job expectations in the workplace. Titled “Gen Y at Work,” the survey was conducted from June 1 to June 13, 2007, among 2,546 hiring managers and HR professionals across all industries.

Nearly half (49%) of employers surveyed said the biggest gap in communication styles between Generation Y employees (29 years old or younger) and older workers is that Gen Y’ers are more likely to use technology to communicate than to have a face-to-face conversation. Another 25% say they have a different frame of reference, especially in terms of pop culture.

In terms of job expectations, 87% of all hiring managers and HR professionals say some or most Gen Y workers feel more entitled in terms of compensation, benefits and career advancement than older generations.

Employers provided the following examples:

  • 74% of employers say Gen Y workers expect to be paid more.
  • 61% say they expect to have flexible work schedules.
  • 56% say Gen Y workers expect to be promoted within a year.
  • 50% say they expect to have more vacation or personal time.
  • 37% say Gen Y workers expect to have access to state-of-the-art technology.

Over half (55%) of employers over the age of 35 feel Gen Y workers have a more difficult time taking direction or responding to authority than other generations of workers.

“Generation Y workers are an important segment of the work force and literally the future of companies and organizations,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for “They grew up in a technology-driven world where standards and norms have changed and often operate under different perspectives than older co-workers. As companies’ cultures evolve with each generation, you see all workers benefiting from a variety of viewpoints and work styles.”

Fifteen percent of employers said they had changed or implemented new policies or programs to accommodate Gen Y workers—changes, Haefner pointed out, that would benefit workers of all ages. Examples include:

  • More flexible work schedules (57%)
  • More recognition programs (33%)
  • More access to state-of-the-art technology (26%)
  • Higher salaries and bonuses (26%)
  • More ongoing education programs (24%)
  • Paying for cell phones, PDAs, etc. (20%)
  • More telecommuting options (18%)
  • More vacation time (11%).