Gen Y Employees Get Generous Job Perks, But Why?

It seems that many companies are trying to attract young, hip, 20-somethings by offering them perks that were unheard of for older Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Here’s the story…

MSNBC: Job perks galore for twentysomethings

Today’s workplace is all about Generation Y when it comes to recruiting. At least that’s how employers see it, and they’re beginning to shower this group with perks unheard of by older workers who battled to get their collective feet in the career door.

Companies from an array of industries, everything from auto to health care, are pulling out all the stops to attract these individuals who are technologically savvy, pros at networking, and often self-indulgent although also socially conscious.

As a stodgy old Boomer make that Gen-Jones-er, who’s worked in technological fields for over 20 years I’ll have to say that a lot of these companies will be sorely disappointed if they expect all of these college grads in this age range to be technologically savvy. Sure, they may use the ‘Internets’ but they’re also likely to have knowledge that doesn’t go much beyond logging into MySpace or Facebook. Some of the worst malware infections I’ve seen were on these "technologically savvy" peoples’ laptops. It greatly annoys me when someone makes the assumption that youth equals technological know-how.

Self-indulgent? What young person isn’t? We were so self-indulgent in the 1970’s that today’s young people can’t legally drink until they’re 21 and have to pee in a cup to get a job. Socially conscious? Woodstock? March on Washington? Earth Day? Hello!

Pros at networking? Sure, I’ll give them that one. However, given the power of the Internet anyone at any age can do that.

So, why are companies trying to lure in these younger workers? A few reasons spring to mind.

First, they’re cheap as compared to older workers. They demand lower salaries because they have lower living expenses due to most of them not having families yet. They are more likely to be healthy and thus less of a burden on health insurance costs. It makes good fiscal sense for many companies and it doesn’t carry the marketing stigma of off-shoring.

Second, they’re naive. They believe that a few trinkets, pizza and dodgeball games make a corporate culture ‘fun’. It’s a good way to lure them in but when they’re burned out in 2-3 years from working 60 hours a week at a dysfunctional company they’ll sing a different tune. However, they’ll find that there is a young batch of naive college grads waiting to take their place.

Third, it’s great marketing. Certain products sell well in the 18-35 demographic and having a young, hip, image helps even a stodgy corporation like GM sell to it. If one of your Facebook pals works there it must be cool, right?

My advice to the Gen-Y’ers is to take advantage of what’s being offered to you but watch your back and don’t be naive. Or, better yet, strike out on your own and don’t get caught up in the corporate rat race.

Do you have a good perks story? Want to tell this old Boomer he’s all wrong about Gen-Y? Leave me a comment and let me know.


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Comment by Mr. Johns
2008-02-05 11:26:00

I predict that many of those Gen-Y employees will be fired as the recession gets more severe. On my blog I have several articles about how one should deal with such lazy bums who think your business is a place to socialize. The quick answer is scare them straight and when that doesn’t work, show them the door.

Comment by jfc
2008-02-08 21:22:40

Hi Mr. Johns,

Thanks for your input. I don’t agree with treating employees that way since it can have negative repercussions on a business. Then again, I saw a lot of companies go belly up during the dotcom bust that did make work like a party.

Comment by Jacob Angel
2008-07-13 14:24:15

An employer who is forced to act that way is an employer who’s incapable of properly screening potential employees.

If you are that bad at hiring, then your company won’t be around long enough to worry about firing workers … they’ll leave on their own just as soon as they realize that they’re sailing on the Titanic.

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