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GOSHEN -- Mindy Schlegel and Eric Kanagy don't take their jobs for granted like some people their age might. Mindy, 25, and Eric, 24, are right on the cusp of generation Y, the all-about-me age group.
According to recent research, many members of generation Y, young adults up to about age 24, are entering the workplace with a new outlook on employment. They want their boss to cater to them or they will switch jobs until they find one who does, and they also want a life outside of work, instead of meshing the two as their parents did.
Generation Y members are more likely to leave their jobs for better benefits, more flexible working arrangements, and greater promotional opportunities, according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting, a company that did an analysis showing differences in attitudes of workers.
Schlegel and Kanagy have worked hard to succeed as entrepreneurs in a competitive field. They skipped career searching altogether to start their corporate video business, Everblue Media, before graduating from college. They opened the company in a small office at Goshen College, but have since grown and moved to the second floor of the MapleTronics building.
"It was a lot harder than both of us could have every imagined," said Schlegel.
Although their ages put them right between generation Y and the next older group, generation X, they have a few generation Y qualities, such as high confidence and a desire to work on their own schedule. Having flexibility to do what they want during the day was part of the reason they wanted to run their own business.
"We continue to make it and mold it into what we want it to be," said Schlegel. "Compared to my parents, they have done the same thing for 20 years. That is hard for me to imagine."
If he were to look for a job in the future, Kanagy said he would want one with flexibility. "Not being tied down from 9 to 5," said Kanagy. "I don't think I would ever be able to do that."
Based on their experiences with younger employees, Kanagy and Schlegel agree with many of the perceptions of generation Y. They have even noticed a difference in the attitudes of people just two years younger than them. "It seems like there is more of an expectation, like because I have this degree then immediately I deserve a lot," said Schlegel.
"It's a strange sense of entitlement," said Kanagy.
Norvis Martin, branch manager for Manpower, an administrative and industrial employment agency, said many college graduates locally do think if something doesn't work out for them, they can always go somewhere else. "It's certainly more pronounced with this generation than other generations," she said.
About 40 percent of the employees at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury are generation Y.
"If anything bigger or better comes along -- 'boom,' they're out of here," said Human Resources Manager Ryan Zimmerman. "A lot of times it's without notice. They will just up and quit or say tomorrow's my last day."
Martin said today's college grads want an opportunity for upward mobility and the money that comes along with it.
Becky Horst, who teaches writing at Goshen College, identifies similar trends in her students. "They know that they're special," said Horst. "They've been treated special their whole life."
They also are always multi-tasking. "It's a generation with ADD in a positive way. They are pulled in many directions and many of them can handle that very well," said Horst.
One reason generation Y employees are so picky is because they can be. They are entering the job market at a time when it is strong, according to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University. Hiring of new college grads is up by 20 percent this year, the institute reported in its annual job outlook report. A survey published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers also found a strong job market, predicting a 13 percent increase in jobs this spring for college graduates.
To retain the generation Y employees, Essenhaus has made small changes to its management techniques in the past five years, said Zimmerman. "We've been trying to do more of empowering employees ... by making them feel more important. It's going to drive them to be a little more loyal."
Another thing employers can do is offer opportunities for professional development, said Schlegel.
Her business partner agreed. "Looking at an employee as a person who wants to grow and change," said Kanagy.
Schlegel summed up what many Y generation youth might be thinking. "There are so many things that I feel are within my reach ... so many things that are possible," she said.
Contact Melissa Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org