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Gen Y Defies Negative Stereotypes in Workplace

lazy-employee-11101302 Credit: Dreamstime.com

Younger Gen-Y employees aren't the self-centered know-it-alls that their seasoned co-workers make them out to be, a new study shows.

Research from the leadership development firm Zenger Folkman reveals that younger employees excel more than their older counterparts, despite the negative perceptions surrounding them.

While Gen Y employees are often considered self-centered and hard to work with, they ranked in the 60th percentile in the study’s collaboration and teamwork category, above the older generations.

"It seems the younger generation is very willing to collaborate with those who are more experienced in the workplace," said Joe Folkman, president and co-founder of Zenger Folkman. "They have something great to contribute to teams. Not surprisingly, they also received the highest scores on innovation."

Another surprise was the extremely high scores of the Gen Y group in the self-development category, contradicting the stereotypical image of complacent know-it-alls.

Despite surpassing their older colleagues in some cases, the survey did reveal areas where Gen-Y employees need improvement, such as beefing up technical and professional expertise, displaying greater integrity and honesty and being more inclined to set higher goals.

"It appears we can all relax," said Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman. "Our fears and stereotypes about this younger generation are largely unfounded, and while they have a lot to learn from us, we also have much to learn from them."

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who spent 10 years  as a newspaper reporter before working in public relations. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.