Skip to comments.The Young Labeled 'Entitlement Generation'
Posted on 06/27/2005 6:36:38 AM PDT by GPBurdell
By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National WriterSun Jun 26, 4:43 PM ET
Evan Wayne thought he was prepared for anything during a recent interview for a job in radio sales. Then the interviewer hit the 24-year-old Chicagoan with this: "So, we call you guys the 'Entitlement Generation,'" the baby boomer executive said, expressing an oft-heard view of today's young work force. "You think you're entitled to everything."
Such labeling is, perhaps, a rite of passage for every crop of twentysomethings. In their day, baby boomers were rabble-rousing hippies, while Gen Xers were apathetic slackers.
Now, deserved or not, this latest generation is being pegged, too as one with shockingly high expectations for salary, job flexibility and duties but little willingness to take on grunt work or remain loyal to a company.
"We're seeing an epidemic of people who are having a hard time making the transition to work kids who had too much success early in life and who've become accustomed to instant gratification," says Dr. Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School and author of a book on the topic called "Ready or Not, Here Life Comes."
While Levine also notes that today's twentysomethings are long on idealism and altruism, "many of the individuals we see are heavily committed to something we call 'fun.'"
He partly faults coddling parents and colleges for doing little to prepare students for the realities of adulthood and setting the course for what many disillusioned twentysomethings are increasingly calling their "quarter-life crisis."
Meanwhile, employers from corporate executives to restaurateurs and retailers are frustrated.
"It seems they want and expect everything that the 20- or 30-year veteran has the first week they're there," says Mike Amos, a Salt Lake City-based franchise consultant for Perkins Restaurants.
Just about any twentysomething will tell you they know someone like this, and may even have some of those high expectations themselves.
Wayne had this response for his interviewer at the radio station: "Maybe we WERE spoiled by your generation. But I think the word 'entitled' isn't necessarily the word," he said. "Do we think we're deserving if we're going to go out there and bust our ass for you? Yes."
He ended up getting the job and, as he starts this month, is vowing to work hard.
Some experts who study young people think having some expectations, and setting limits with bosses, isn't necessarily negative.
"It's true they're not eager to bury themselves in a cubicle and take orders from bosses for the next 40 years, and why should they?" asks Jeffrey Arnett, a University of Maryland psychologist who's written a book on "emerging adulthood," the period between age 18 and 25. "They have a healthy skepticism of the commitment their employers have to them and the commitment they owe to their employers."
Many young people also want to avoid becoming just another cog who works for a faceless giant.
Anthony DeBetta, a 23-year-old New Yorker, works with other twentysomethings at a small marketing firm and says the company's size makes him feel like he can make a difference.
"We have a vested interest in the growth of this firm," he says.
Elsewhere, Liz Ryan speculates that a more relaxed work environment at the company she runs no set hours and "a lot of latitude in how our work gets done" helps inspire her younger employees.
"Maybe twentysomethings have figured out something that boomers like me took two decades to piece together: namely, that there's more to life than by-the-book traditional career success," says Ryan, the 45-year-old CEO of a Colorado-based company called WorldWIT, an on and offline networking organization for professional women.
As much as some employers would like to resist the trend, a growing number are searching for ways to retain twentysomething employees and to figure out what makes them tick.
"The manager who says I don't have time for that is going to be stuck on the endless turnover treadmill," says Eric Chester, a Colorado-based consultant who works with corporations to understand what he calls "kidployees," ages 16 to 24.
At Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, for instance, administrators have developed an internship with mentoring and more training for young nurses that has curbed turnover by more than 50 percent and increased job satisfaction.
Amos at Perkins Restaurants says small changes also have helped loosening standards on piercings or allowing cooks to play music in the kitchen.
And Muvico, a company with movie theaters in a few Southern states, gives sporting goods and music gift certificates to young staffers who go beyond minimum duties.
"If you just expect them to stand behind a register and smile, they're not going to do that unless you tell them why that's important and then recognize them for it," says John Spano, Muvico's human resources director.
Still others are focusing on getting twentysomethings more prepared.
Neil Heyse, an instructor at Pennsylvania's Villanova University, has started a company called MyGuidewire to provide career coaching for young people.
"It's a hot issue and I think it's getting hotter all the time," Heyse says of work readiness. "There's a great amount of anxiety beneath the surface."
On the Net:
Chester's site: http://www.generationwhy.com
Heyse's site: http://www.myguidewire.com/
Martha Irvine is a national writer specializing in coverage of people in their 20s and younger. She can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org
If the young feel entitled, who taught that to them? I think the parents of the WWII generation started it with Social Security, TVA, and other government programs of FDR, then continued on with that socialist idea with the LBJ "Great Society".
Your #6 - Dead on. I preach those exact concepts all the time.
It's going to learn that by the age of 40, you had better have your own company.
Well, that's largely impractical for most of us that don't have the capital to do so. Those that do I applaud their vision and bravery -- I don't have that.
Okay you young people out there. What are your thoughts on investment accounts for younger workers as a part of saving Social Security. Like it, hate it, no use for it?
Many are not, such as myself.
I love that Baby Boomers, the most spoiled and entitled generation in the history of Western Civ, could possibly try to pass judgement on other generations with a collective straight face.
"The real "Entitlement Generation" is the baby boomers, who clearly have no problem with feeling entitled to spend both their parents' and childrens' wealth, while assuming no responsibility whatsoever to pull the apple cart off the train tracks."
Right, Power to the People dude, don't trust anyone over 25.
You tell me, mate. Baby boomers feel entitled to Social Security as-is, despite the certain knowledge that following generations not only won't get the same deal, but also that those same younger folks are being taxed for it on a blatantly fraudulent basis.
Why would anyone want to save that socialist Ponzy scheme?
I have had enough of the nanny police state that our country has become. I would say Jefferson is spinning in his grave, but at this point, if he was connected to a generator, he could personally supply half of Virginias electrical demand.
Let stop working to "preserve" the very socialist programs which have eroded this country in the first place.
End it, don't mend it.
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
I saw my Dad get laid-off one year shy of being eligible for a (reduced) company pension. I've worked for companies that make incredible demands on their employee's personal time and try to sell it as a "Team Effort." Yet when the department manager is told from on high to reduce his department head count by 10%, they let people go with nary a thought.
The company isn't your friend, your family, or your life. Do a honest day's work, then go home to your loved ones.
We won't see a dime of SS. The majority of the gen X gen Y population won't see a better standard of living than their parents. As stated, we are free agents increasingly competing against the global gen x gen y population, with a continuously lowering pay scale due to labor supply and demand scales moving closer to perfectly fluid.
We've got fewer options, extended studies until we have a post Masters degree while working, or moving into a field where distance to customers negates offshoring. Either climb the (ever smaller percentage wise of total workforce) corporate ladder, get a government job, or learn a trade and field and start a business by 40.
What really pisses off Gen X people are the trade deficits, and the fact that baby boomers and our grandparents generation are racking up trillion dollar debts that we will have to pay off, plus interest, from our paychecks, every paycheck, for the rest of our lives, AND OUR CHILDRENS' LIVES.
The boomers and their parents have entitled themselves to the highest level of economic prosperity the world have ever seen by bankrupting their nation and enslaving their descendants to debt obligations.
Entitled, my ass, the tax burden on our generation is going to be staggering, and the beneficiaries of the government largess will be boomers and foreign creditors.
There have been several studies that predict the US taxpayer will soon be paying well over 66% of income to taxes. To pay off the debts of previous generations.
Gen X ping.
Realistically though, you have to mend it to end it. Just can't take it away cold turkey. Nothing in govt happens that way. I agree with your basic point however.
Then you guys need to get into the political process, make your voices heard and demand what you want. Only those who are loud get heard. So speak up. Tell the powerful what you want and back it up with your collective votes. There is still hope and there are older people working for the same thing you want. Debt paydown, etc. It is not one generation against another although there are a lot of jerks all around.
End it by doing whatever one has to so that it is gone at some point in the future. Our politicians do not want it to ever go away. They think they have a right to direct our retirement.
That is why investment accounts are a good first step. You see then the money that goes into that account is yours, not the govt to take away. You can leave it to your kids. Help spread the word. It is a small start but the President is trying to help you guys. Get behind him and push for something better. The elderly vote in record numbers. Younger people do not vote. Change that and you will see results. I have great hope from your passion and I urge you to contact your Congressman and have your friends do the same. Let them hear from you. You can change things.