Generation Slacker

Dear Cubicle Coach: The younger staffers in my office feel entitled. They leave on time and get sullen when I ask them to go above and beyond. When I was starting out, I killed myself for my boss. How do I get them working like dogs?

Dear Boomer: Hmm, maybe by not referring to them as "dogs." Workplace experts have been exploring the shift between Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Y-ers. What they're finding, for starters, is that the younger generations see a workplace that offers little in the way of commitment (consider: downsizing, outsourcing, freelance-heavy staffs), and they're returning the favor (this is the friends-with-benefits crowd, remember). Furthermore, as the generation reared on getting trophies simply for showing up, they've enjoyed a lifetime of coddling, so they hunger for constant attention, affirmation, and frequent promotions. For a happy and productive Y-er (pretty much anyone in her 20s), think idealism and mentoring. They love a green office, so charge them with ramping up the recycling program. Let them cut out early now and then to work at a soup kitchen. Rather than testing them, teach and support them, and you'll get them working harder. Maybe not as hard as you, but then again, there's also a chance they won't adopt your Celexa-and-Sancerre habit either.

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