There has been a lot of chatter this week about the dear millennials, and why big business should or should not hire this group of young working professionals. In an article by the Harvard Business Journal called Boomers, Stop Yelling at Gen Y to Get Off Your Lawn, the argument is made that millennials bring a special something to the office environment in the form of innovation and technological savvy. The same culture millennials are shunned for (think reality TV and tattoos) exemplifies an attitude that benefits the office environment.

Although their fresh perspective can often be an asset to an organization, this generation of workers also possesses a few too many “selves”, and a hustler attitude that may make it hard for employers to see a Gen Y employee’s efforts over his or her personality. Which “self” are they today?

I would contest that this is not a bad thing. So we grew up in a generation where the typical attention span is six seconds. Look at the benefits we bring to the table. A shorter attention span may mean a better knack for multi-tasking. In fact, as I’m writing this now, I’m reading the news online, shopping for a new pair of boots and making a sandwich.

Millennials offer fresh new ideas, and a flexible platform for more seasoned employees to practice their leadership skills. Every one of these early 1980’s kids is looking for a mentor, I can assure you that. So this offers an opportunity to leave your legacy with an up-and-comer. After all, the legacy you leave is what people will remember you for in the end.

Millenials also offer a skill that those in the earlier generation of the workforce may not provide. They can talk to those darn kids younger than us! They know where the next generation is coming from. They remember what it was like five years ago when they were graduating from college; when their greatest worry was getting that first job, learning how to network without looking pathetic and finding their place in this crazy workforce. The millennials aren’t the fresh young pups anymore, but they’re still looking for a chance. So give them a break! And let them work for you. Let them learn from you. A successful workplace is diverse in many ways… to include age and talent.

So how does this relate to working in a government environment? According to a GovLoop survey in 2010 of more than 3.3 million government workers, only 16.2 percent of employees are under the age of 35, with an average age of 47.

Does there need to be a more diverse age range? Or is there a reason there are less Gen Y workers in government positions?


Erika Wonn is a communications analyst and proud veteran in Washington, DC. Follow Erika on Twitter @erikawonn

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Erika Wonn is a communications analyst and proud veteran in Washington, DC.