Maybe the stereotype about Gen Y workers racing home at 5 p.m. and working late at night from their Blackberries is just a tired caricature.
A recent survey indicates that the youngest workers are the most willing to go the extra mile when the economy tightens and job security becomes tenuous. A higher percentage of Gen Y workers strive to impress the boss, arrive earlier and working later and taking on extra responsibilities than their older peers.
With a gloomy economic forecast as the backdrop, Randstad surveyed workers about their attitudes toward the workplace with an emphasis on their eagerness to obtain greater job security.
When asked whether they would arrive early and stay late, 48 percent of Gen Y workers said yes compared with 40 percent of Gen X and 29 percent of Boomers.
“I was a bit surprised at how willing Generation Y was to stay late and take additional responsibilities,” says Eric Buntin, managing director for Randstad. “Our earlier surveys indicated that work-life balance is so critical to them.”
Results were based on an online survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted when the economy began tumbling in August and September. Buntin acknowledged that some of the ready-made analysis of Gen Y workers might be unfair and their true nature in the office defies easy characterization.
“We’ve noted that their level of commitment to work and their interest in learning is just as high as everyone else,” he says.
As expected, only 50 percent of employees believe their boss is competent. What’s more startling is the 29 percent who consider their boss a mentor and the paltry 19 percent who believe the boss is an advocate.
Buntin attributes the low numbers in part to the changing dynamics of the workforce whereby managers are held to the same standards of performance as staff. They must leverage technology to a greater degree, handle more administrative tasks, and meet performance goals.
“Everyone faces productivity pressures,” he says. “Bosses are individual contributors. Driving their own departments takes a back seat.”
Only 32 percent of employees report being asked for input and a dismal 30 percent believe they are rewarded for accomplishments. Managers are not consciously disregarding input from staff, they are simply too pressed for time to ask.
“The historical measurements of a successful manager are not at the forefront of expectations for managers,” Buntin says. “They’re not coordinating a team or extracting the best performance from the team because they’re having to deliver on a daily basis.”
Buntin says organizations need to find a balance between the development needs of employees as it relates to their supervisors and the annual expectations placed upon managers.