Recession Tips for Gen Y

Last Updated Nov 13, 2008 11:03 AM EST

Boomers and Gen Xers see this recession differently than the Gen Y cohort for one simple reason.

They've been here before.

Recession Tips for Gen YBoomers can remember stagflation and half-mile long gas lines back in the 1970s (The government bailout for consumers back then was a free Whip Inflation Now button.) Many Xers probably recall the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987, when the Dow fell more than 20 percent. The dot.com bubble popped all over them, too.

But most 20-something workers have known only unbroken prosperity and job security during their careers. Now the business climate is chilling. Talk around the office has changed from bonuses and profit sharing to salary freezes and layoffs.

Eric Chester, president and founder of Generation Why, has special advice for how this group can make it through the downturn. Writing on Harvard Business Publishing, Chester advises:

  • Become tougher mentally
  • Bring your 'A' game to work each day
  • Cut personal debt, save more
  • Be positive and focused at work -- shine by example
Read Chester's post for more details and sound advice.

Y Me?
On a related matter, we've talked here on occasion about generational conflicts in the office. Boomers hate Xers but like Yers. Xers resent Boomers and are threatened by Yers. Etc. Now these tensions are surfacing, subtley, in the "advice for the recession" pieces I've read lately.

It's the condescending tone that hits you first. The message: Y has had it soft until now, naming their own hours, turning in work when they wanted, never having to to worry about losing a paycheck. Now Y is going to really find out what the rest of us have learned in the School of Hard Knocks -- work is called that for a reason!

Makes me hope that the the youngest generation learns from the experience what us older folks didn't: maturity and empathy.

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.