Have 18 to 30s been stereotyped as a bunch of cash greedy job hoppers or have they been given an easy ride?

A recent article stated that current employers are more likely to get rid of Generation Y employees compared to older staff.

This raises many questions about how the generation of 18 to 30 years olds is perceived in the workplace.

Have Gen Y candidates in the construction industry been stereotyped as a bunch of cash greedy job hoppers or have they been given an easy ride to success with every opportunity to achieve?

Building London 2012 Team
The Building London 2012 Team: seven young people who’ve been given the chance to help build one of the most high-profile and demanding projects the UK has ever seen (see link to article bellow)

Here a general manager from an Australian national mid-tier organisation, with first hand experience employing Gen Y candidates, gives his view on the subject:

How many Gen Y employees do you have at the moment and what type of positions do they fill?

We currently employee 12 Gen Y staff, a mix of contracts administrators, a contracts managers, a couple of foreman and cadets.

What do you look for when you hire Gen Y candidates and what are your expectations? Do these expectations differ to any other generation of workers?

I have the same expectations of my entire staff whether it’s Gen Y or Gen X.

I look for younger guys that have the same work ethic as the older staff and have a bit of street wise about them. They must be a good cultural fit also.

Are Gen Y employees fulfilling your expectations in the workplace? Do they achieve set goals and targets?

A lot of Gen Y employee’s don’t set goals and need to be pushed. The work ethic is different between Gen Y and Gen X workers who get on with the job because they are used to working hard with longer hours.

Gen Y will work longer hours but they need to pushed into doing it. Gen X would easily work a 60 plus hour week and wouldn’t leave until their job was finished, they would work six day weeks because working a Saturday was normal, younger guys will only work the odd Saturday.

How do you find the turnover of Gen Y staff? Do you find them loyal or do they move around too much?

They definitely move around too much, a lot of the younger guys are short sighted and are only chasing the money that is on offer. I think this current climate will change all that and most of these young guys should change their ideas.

In your opinion do you find that Gen Y candidates try and progress too quickly in the workplace?

Yes they do, it is common to see 24 and 25 years olds wondering why they are not already project managers.

A lot of these guys are straight out of University and want to become a project manager immediately.

You would normally spend four to five years as a cadet then move into contracts administration and then with at least 10 years experience under your belt you would become a project manager.

Do you find that they are career driven or money driven or both?

I would say both, with money being the most important thing for most.

In your opinion what sort of positive skills/knowledge/experience can Gen Y bring to your company that Gen X fails to bring?

The biggest skill they can bring is their use of technology and getting the most out of software and systems.

It comes naturally to a lot of younger employees with most Gen X workers struggling to get the most out of technology.

Considering the current state of the market, have you found that Gen Y employees are concerned or worried about their jobs?

I haven’t had too much feedback from my guys but we do keep them in the loop and updated as much as possible.

Do you think the volatile nature of the construction industry is off putting for junior candidates coming through the ranks?

It is really hard to say at the moment because a lot of industries are in a similar position.

I think that in the construction industry we are very fortunate that we can offer very good money to younger guys and probably one of the only sectors that can afford this luxury.

It's up to the young guys how much they want out of it, if they are prepared to work hard and apply themselves then they can find a very rewarding career in construction.

If your company experiences a downturn, is Gen Y the first to go? If so Why?

No not necessarily, it is usually a combination of factors including loyalty and performance. If an employee has shown us over 10 years service which some of them have, and have performed quite well then we are going to be more likely to keep them on.

Looking into 2009, what type of employee bracket will you be looking to employee?

Quite hard to say at this stage however we will be looking to take on a real mixture of guys.

In terms of Gen Y we normally take on a few cadets which is something we will continue, we would also like to take on some young site based people when the time is right, as previously we have had an ageing site team.

It is important that the young guys don’t want to progress too quickly, not being a project manager within one or two years is not the be and end all.

What is your overall message/opinion about Gen Y in the workplace today?

I would say overall, Gen Y have un-realistic salary expectations in relation to their experience.

There have been certain companies that have expanded too quickly in our industry and in some cases thrown younger guys too much cash for what they can do.

I believe that the older workers are alot more realistic in our industry. They have often worked their way up, been through the hard times and will take less money even though they have better experience.

If Gen Y comes out of university and after one or two years ask for a salary of $110K which I have noticed, then quite often they will be the first to leave during a downturn.

It seems that the current economic downturn will either transform the stereotyping behind Gen Y or confirm the debate where many Gen X’s stand their ground.