How Much Flexibility Do You Want & Need At Work?

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It used to be a very simple path. Go to school, get a degree, find a job where you work from 9 to 5 or longer, every year. After proving yourself for a few years, you’d eventually be able to get a few raises, added responsibilities, a promotion, which at some point would lead you to a retirement with a full pension from both that company and the government. That seems so 20th century doesn’t it?

I Am Part Of The Y Generation

You know, the generation that grew up with computers, smartphones, that learned as much on my own through books and the internet than I did in any classroom.

My Expectations Towards Work Are Incredibly Different

First, I know that loyalty is gone. I don’t feel loyal towards my employer anymore than I feel it is to me.I say that having been working for the same firm for 8 years now so it’s not as if I’m moving around every year.Things have changed though. A few years back, I was offered a 20% raise to do the same job at a competitor. I didn’t want to leave but at the same time, staying for a lot less didn’t feel right. So I met with my boss, and then my boss’s boss, and explained the situation. It wasn’t the best meeting of my life but the outcome turned out to be what I was hoping for. They matched that competitor’s offer.

My Expectations Are Different

I have very different beliefs than previous generations. Here are a few examples:

-It’s not about how much work but what I get done: The reason why I push hard to have flexible hours, to be able to work from other locations is that I believe that I should be judged on my productivity, on how much I can improve things, help the firm make profits, etc. It should not matter if one week I work 30 hours and the next one I work 60. As long as I can be an effective employee, that should be enough. Anyway, I have enough incentives to perform well in order to live up to expectations, get promotions, raises, bonuses, feel like I’m making a difference, etc.

-Vacations: Good for everyone. I know, a decade ago, new employees would get 2 weeks off per year and stay at that level for a long time. I don’t care. Don’t you think that I’m much more effective at work after a week of vacations? What if giving me 2 extra weeks of vacations made me 5 or 10% more productive the rest of the year. Wouldn’t that be a no-brainer? Win-win right? In a similar way, I’ve been thinking about taking a 3 or 6 month sabbatical to travel a bit around the world. Does my employer really need me to quit over that? I mean, if I’m determined to do such a trip, I’ll do it even if it means quitting. What’s the danger in making it easier for me to do so?

-Working forom remote locations: Again, this should be about getting things done. When I was in school, I used to be a lot more effective when I’d go from place to place to study. At school, library, in a Starbucks, etc. I understand that being able to meet in person for meetings and with clients is important. But I’m sure there is some way to reach a compromise?

-Help Me Feel Healthy: It’s to everyone’s advantage if I have a lot of energy, little sick days, etc. For that reason, I think employers should make it much easier to be healthy. It’s great if you are a company like Google or Yahoo and that you serve free (healthy) food. Having a gym or making it easy to leave for a few hours in the middle of the day works great as well. Long term, I’ll be able to get a lot more done.

-I Want To See Progress: I’m not saying I should get a promotion every 6 months. But it would be nice to get many smaller raises rather than one big one every 5 years. Help me learn by sponsoring courses I want to take, give me objectives, etc. It’s not a secret, Generation Y people like myself are not the most patient and we need to know where we’re going and how much progress is being made.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel like your expectations towards your workplace/employer are very different from what they were a generation or two ago?

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