The Folly of Youth

"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today...all youth are reckless beyond words."

Who said this and when? It's probably not who and when you might think. The answer? We're back to the 8th century BC and man named Hesiod (he was an Aoidos incidentally, but that's another story.)

Youth are too often condemned -- their lack of loyalty, work ethic, respect -- and apparently, it started quite some time ago.

But wait...

In his recent 10 trends unfolding with the recovery, Jim Carroll makes two interesting predictions about the new economy and its emerging leaders:

Rapid movers start to predominate: some of today's XBox/Wii players are going to be CEO's of big companies within 15-20 years. The high-velocity economy is just starting to take off. Just wait until the Gen-Connect starts to run things.

The "created in China" phase comes next: half the population is under the age of 25. They're wired, highly collaborative, and have tasted the early stages of economic success. Innovation is thriving - forget manufacturing, think design.

If you're going to employ Gen Y or their cohorts thereafter, consider the following:

  • Demand for flexibility does not equal laziness: Gen Y-ers value flex time more than pay. Au revoir long hours. (Work-life balance isn't just a buzz term. But feel free to ignore if hemmoraging talent is in your strategic plan.)
  • Have skills, will travel: This Gen is well-educated, very talented and highly mobile...and they know it. Accept that they won't work for you for 25 years like their parents did, but that interesting projects, mentorship and leadership development will help retain them much longer.
  • Desire for opportunity is not a lack of loyalty: "Entry level" isn't a free pass to perpectually assign grunt work anymore (some, sure, but not without promise of meaningful development.)
  • It's not A.D.D., it's next gen multi-tasking:  In a generation where it's not uncommon to be tweeting, chatting and updating your iPod simultaneously, you are going to see blackberries and laptops out at meetings.  It's not disrespect, it's the belief that in those 3-hour committee meetings, other things can also be accomplished.  Instead of feeling insulted, why not tap into their knowledge base to launch your first social media app or mobile marketing initiative?

Of course, you could just ignore these trends and wait till you work for them. Believe it or not, it's coming soon to a workplace near you.