I was talking to a colleague of mine the other day. We talked about a lot of different things, and it was refreshing. We talked my book, we talked about the Olympics, we talked about the Mars rover and the incredible job done by the NASA engineers. And lastly, we talked about our work and career. An entrepreneur and a corporate guy talked about the erosion of loyalty with a company and we talked about how the job market seems to be picking up a bit. We also allowed ourselves to dream a little too. We allowed ourselves to talk about the best moments of our career.
He actually reflected on work experiences of his dad and the loyalty that came with a job during his time. His dad worked at the same bank for over 40 years. Insane by today’s standards, but yet there was something to be said about his loyalty from hid dad as an employee and in turn, the loyalty of company to his dad. His dad dealt with politics and BS just like anyone else, but there was an unwritten understanding that they would see things through and take care of on another.
What may be striking to most is that this colleague is a member of Gen Y, also known as a Millennial. You know, the generation that is not loyal, the generation that cannot sit still…or so we think. I was personally surprised when he told me a lot of his peers would love to go back to that era of stability.
He was longing for the glory days that we all have heard about. The days when senior executives would bring kegs to the parking lot on Fridays, the days when food was served at every meeting and the days when work stayed at work. Then I realized that those good old days never existed for this generation. They started to enter the workforce when the Internet bubble was crashing and then 9/11 happened and the world flipped. Shortly after that it was the Great Recession, and now it is the never-ending recovery.
Unemployment for this generation is higher than for any other generation right now. If you Google Gen Y unemployment, the top story lines are about their new reality, unemployment, living with their parents and an unsecure retirement. The prospects look bleak, but I have faith in our ability as Gen X leaders to build a better place for them to inherit.
It cannot just be a game anymore, there is too much on the line. We need to help figure it out. Gen X cannot be on the sidelines anymore; it is our turn to lead. It is our time!