GenY Shows Lack of Professionalism at Work: Report

From tattoos to temperment, younger workers are missing the mark at exhibiting professional behavior in the office, a study finds. Entry-level salaries may be attractive to the bottom line, but a sense of entitlement and a deficient work ethic are leaving a bad taste in the mouths of hiring managers and upper management.

Technology workers concerned about younger people taking their jobs should listen up: GenY may be a generation raised on the Internet, but their communication skills, work ethic and overall professionalism in the workplace need some serious attention.

Recent college graduates are not living up to expectations of what it means to be professional on the job, according to research from York College's Center for Professional Excellence, which polled 520 hiring managers, human resources leaders and business executives.

More than 88 percent of those surveyed said professionalism is related to the person not the position they are in. Nearly 40 percent found GenY to have poor grammar skills; Almost 30 percent found GenY to have a poor attitude, with 27 percent reporting these workers are "disrespectful and inconsiderate." In terms of GenY's IT habits, almost 40 percent found an increase in incidents involving IT etiquette, including the accessing of unauthorized company information.

"HR pros and business leaders identified five primary characteristics of the professional they are looking to hire," David Polk, president of the Polk-Lepson Research Group, which conducted the survey, said in a statement. "The research also found that a lot of college graduates nationally are not measuring up well in these areas."

If you are wondering what exactly defines a "professional," here are the characteristics executives and managers rated as lacking in GenY workers, according to the York College research:

  • motivation to see a task to its completion;
  • overall interaction skills, including courtesy and respect when interacting;
  • listening and communication skills;
  • appearance; and
  • self-confidence and awareness.

More than a third of those polled found recent graduates' professionalism to have decreased over the last five years, but more than half found no change in professionalism over the same period. Of those who cited a decrease in professionalism, 61 percent found GenY to have a strong sense of entitlement and a lack of work ethic.

"Business leaders complained that many recent college graduates have a hard time accepting personal responsibility for their decisions or acting independently," according to the report. "Managers also said graduates seem to not have a clear sense of direction or purpose in the office."