Twentysomethings in the workplace

TIME Twentysomething

"Welcome to the era of hedged bets and lowered expectations", says the cover story of Time Magazine. A poll of 18 to 29-year olds, found 65 per cent agreed that it will be harder for their group to live as comfortably as previous generations. But despite the lowered expectations, these twentysomethings have the power to wreak havoc in the workplace:

Companies are discovering that to win the best talent. they must cater to a young work force that is considered overly sensitive at best and lazy at worst … These youngsters are starting to use their bargaining power to get more of what they feel is coming to them. They want flexibility, access to decision making and a return to the sacredness of work-free weekends. "I want a work environment concerned about my personal growth," says Jennifer Peters, 22, one of the youngest candidates ever to be admitted to the State Bar of California. "I don’t want to go to work and feel I’ll be burned out two or three years down the road."

Most of all, young people want constant feedback from supervisors. In contrast with the baby boomers, who disdained evaluations as somehow undemocratic, people in their 20s crave grades, performance evaluations and reviews. They want a quantification of their achievement. After all, these were the children who prepped diligently for college-aptitude exams and learned how to master Rubik’s Cube and Space Invaders. They are consummate game players and grade grubbers. "Unlike yuppies, younger people are not driven from within, they need reinforcement," says Penny Erikson, 40, a senior vice president at the Young & Rubicam ad agency, which has hired many recent college graduates. "They prefer short-term tasks with observable results."

Rubik’s cube and Space Invaders? Yuppies? Should the West Help Gorbachev? That’s right, we’re talking about Generation X. Look closely at the magazine cover and you’ll see the date — July 16, 1990.

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5 Responses to Twentysomethings in the workplace

  1. meika says:



    Ida Kubiszewski and Robert Costanza at the Australian National University in Canberra and their colleagues gathered estimates of GPI for 17 countries – totalling more than half the world’s population and GDP – and assembled them into the first-ever global picture of how GPI has changed over the years. They found that GPI per person peaked in 1978 and has been declining slowly but steadily ever since (Ecological Economics, This contrasts sharply with the steady increase in GDP per capita since then, and implies that social and environmental woes have outpaced the growth of monetary wealth.
    “We’re not making a social profit,” says Costanza. In particular, growing inequality of incomes and environmental degradation are the biggest factors dragging GPI down.

    Its all crap since 1978 so the 20something story is bound to be the same. Except back when I was 20 something there was a show on telly called 30 Something.

  2. meika says:

    sheesh my block quote got mixed up somehow because I was having a conversation at the same time as commenting

  3. meika says:

    “The Quarter-Life Breakthrough” Book on indiegogo Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky is writing a handbook for 20-somethings who hate their jobs and want to follow their passions. Bring it to life, get a copy in the process, and start doing what you love.

  4. Michael says:

    Hmmm… the Rubik’s cube didn’t make all that much lasting impact after all. Who knew? Not sure computer games have either.

    Seriously though in the last five years I have noticed two things. Smart phones have people engaged in work or interrupted by work more in evenings and weekends than ever before. There has been a very slight increase in flexibility such as people occasionally working from home, although this hardly makes up for the increase in after office hours work. There is still major resistance to people working from home though which seems to be driven by an out-dated work culture some people are still hanging onto.

    The other is an increase in casuals being used to meet short term increases in workload rather than creating new longer term positions. This is hardly a novel observation, but it probably will have longer lasting impacts on the culture of work. It would be interesting to know whether there has been changes in how long people expect to remain in their current job and how that impacts on their long-term plans.

  5. Stephen Hill says:

    I think you’ll find that this is just one of those memes like say the “War on Christmas” that a group of people want to believe and through anecdote they find evidence – allowing it enough perpetual motion to keep popping up in the media. The same with blaming everything on the yoof or the younger generations (reminds me of that Monty Python sketch “Three Yorkshiremen”) – the sort of narrative that can be used to mask the complexity of the social nature of the world of work.

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