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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 and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad 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. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.