Generation Y: LAZY? Entitled? Or just misunderstood?

They’re often labelled lazy and entitled and are known to change jobs at the drop of a hat – but a recently released survey on how millennials make career choices has revealed that they may just be misunderstood.

Millennials are those born between 1980 and 2000, who are also referred to as Generation Y.

The survey – conducted by the International Youth Foundation and Hilton which was released in May – has revealed that most millennials seek job opportunities which offer flexibility and opportunities for international travel.

Conducted on a total of 7600 young people between the ages of 16 to 24 based in 30 countries across the world, the survey revealed that more than half of the respondents seek flexible work hours and a balanced work and home life.

Results also revealed that 33% of respondents seek jobs that will give them the opportunity to travel to different regions and countries, 40% are unhappy with the current opportunities for internships and apprenticeships as part of their education and 27% are attracted to jobs which include some form of volunteer work.

Regional human resources director at Hilton Africa & Indian Ocean Hellen Lebone said responses from South African youth revealed that a whopping 63% of our local millennials look for employment which offers flexible work hours.

The flexibility to move to different countries or regions are what 49% of respondents said they want, 55% are eager for improved internship and apprenticeship opportunities with 27% looking for a job which will allow them to volunteer.

“Young people want more than just a traditional job, whether it is
international career expansion opportunities, world-class training programmes or volunteering towards a wider social and environmental cause,” human resources senior vice-president for Hilton in Europe, Middle East & Africa Ben Bengougam said.

The survey comes in the wake of media reports from across the world labelling millennials as lazy with only themselves to blame for their problems which include being unable to get a job or buy into the property market and many living with their parents until late into their 20s.

A recent article in the UK’s The Daily Telegraph reported on Australian property mogul Tim Gurner chastising young people for splurging too much on the likes of avocado toast, instead of saving for a property.

Also in this month, a Spanish court ruled against a 23-year-old woman demanding financial support from her parents, on the grounds that she was “too lazy to earn a living”.

Buffalo City Youth Council’s Sipho Kilani – who is actively involved in projects to boost youth employment – said some millennials have a sense of entitlement and are lazy, with many relying on their parents for everything.

“Many study, return home and sit and wait for their parents to provide everything with very little effort put into looking for employment or making money.

“Many of them only seek jobs within their chosen field of study and are reluctant to take work which will pay the bills while they look for their dream jobs,” he said, adding that South Africa’s high unemployment rate was also to blame for their predicament.

“So they are not completely to blame. Employers also need to give millennials a chance to prove themselves in the workplace as it’s unfair to paint everyone with the same brush.

“Within that same age group there are those who are keen and eager to work.”

In PricewaterhouseCooper’s 14th annual Global CEO Survey, it is predicted that by the year 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce so employers have to get to grips with what turns millennials on about work.

According to the survey, millennials are known for their ambition, desire to keep learning and move quickly upwards through an organisation as well as their willingness to move out of an organisation if their expectations are not being met – which sets them aside from the previous generation.

“Millennials want a flexible approach to work, but very regular feedback and encouragement,” the report read.

“They want to feel their work is worthwhile and that their efforts are being recognised.

“And they value similar things in an employer brand as they do in a consumer brand.

“Millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and turned off by information silos. They expect rapid progression, a varied and interesting career and constant feedback.

“In other words, millennials want a management style and corporate culture that is markedly different from anything that has gone before – one that meets their needs.”

Sheldon Recruitment manager Lindie Krug agrees. According to Krug, millennials are not happy with a rigid work structure or arbitrary workplace rules, which many employers enforce.

Krug added many businesses in East London do not attract millennials as a result of this.

“For instance, some millennials don’t like to be told that they have to work from eight to five every day, some prefer to do the work in their own time such as coming in a bit later and staying later in the day or coming in early and leaving early,” Krug explained.

“Many clients tend to box them in and they don’t want that.

“For example, there are employers who have a rule that you can’t touch your phone during work hours, meanwhile the millennial went very quickly through their work, finished it and they have time on their hands.

“Millennials need flexibility in their jobs and a happy, modern work environment.

“Here [in East London] we have some really old companies with very rigid structures.”

Profile Personnel director Seaton Guess explained from the other perspective, saying the older generation not keen on hiring younger people because they were of the opinion that they were not settled in life.

“A lot of young people are keen to get a job, get rich and climb the corporate ladder quickly.

“This sometimes leads them from job to job when they don’t see that success.”

Guess said potential employers see this in a CV and, if it can’t be explained satisfactorily, they’ll be loath to hire the individual.

“It needs to be a strategic move based on sound decision-making or it could just blow up in your face.”

The Daily Dispatch spoke to three millennials who gave their workplace expectations.

Phumlani Ngceza – who originally studied towards an accounting qualification but is now looking into public relations – said he needed an organisation which offered flexibility and opportunities to grow.

“I want to be able to learn something new every day,” he said.

Social sciences student Sipho Gadayi said he would like to work for a company which offers gainful internships which offer experiential learning – experience which will hopefully assist when graduates seek full time employment.

Gadayi said he had recently embarked on a 12-month internship which was extended by another year but did not lead to full time employment as he still lacked the necessary experience.

“These days it’s very rare to find a 22-year-old with a permanent job. I think employers need to be more realistic with their hiring criteria to give everyone a fair chance.

“A graduate fresh out of university may have the qualification but will not have five years experience,” he said.

Yandisa Ntanga said job security was an important consideration for him.

“In many cases we end up agreeing to short-term contracts just to get a foot in the door of the company, but a permanent job is more ideal.” — zisandan@dispatch.co.za

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