Gen Y Workers Are “Spoiled But Smart”

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And no, I’m not writing this because of the fresh batch of summer interns who turned up in the offices this week. I got no bone to pick with you lot, especially if you help me fact-check my articles.

Stef Witteveen, CEO of Randstad USA, stopped by today on a visit from its headquarters in Atlanta to discuss the staffing company’s new report, World at Work, its eighth annual survey of workplace attitudes. The survey looked closely at young workers in particular and their relationship with work.

Witteveen has a vested interest in understanding this group: his 2,000-employee company hires a bunch of them every month. They also make up a good chunk of the 49,000 people Randstad USA places in businesses.

One finding: Gen Y demands personal contact. “This is the texting generation, but in fact they want face time, coaching, attention, help with life-work balance, attention to ethics,” says Witteveen.

Many Gen Y workers were raised by helicopter parents who hovered over their every decision. Put simply, “they’re spoiled,” says Witteveen. “You’re not going to change that as the employer. You do have to manage it, even embrace it. I don’t feel I have to raise them,” he adds. “I feel I do have to coach, help and grow them. And I recommend all employers to do so.”

Why should they? For one, you got to dance with what brung you–or, in this case, what you brung. As a recent Fortune cover by Nadira Hira said, you raised ‘em; now, you manage ‘em. It’s not like Baby Boomers can run the world forever, much as they might like to. “These will be the leaders of the world, the leaders of my company,” says the CEO. Plus, he adds, Gen Y workers are savvy, smart and generally worth the trouble.

By the way, if you want a job at Randstad, there are three openings–that is, fake openings for fake jobs on SecondLife. From its web site:

Candidates get paid in Linden dollars, the official currency of Second Life. The branch also offers real jobs, there are three vacancies at this moment; one as a manager of the ‘avatar’ (a virtual character on Second Life) of a Dutch law firm and there are two positions at ABN AMRO as the manager of the virtual hostess at ABN (the candidates get paid in real life euros).

Check out the promo. I like how the guide avatar walks, with his head down and really fast. I’m going to walk like that the rest of the day.

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