Will "Generation Y" reinvent the workplace?

A recent article from Psychology Today contends that Millennials (individuals born roughly from the early 1980s through the late 1990s, also known as Generation Y) are poised to take over the workplace.

The article declares that these newest entrants to the workforce were "raised by parents who often acted more like friends and mentors. So Gen Y comes to the negotiating table with unprecedented confidence about what kind of workplace they want."

When I read articles like this, I'm of two minds. On one hand, I'm endlessly fascinated with the different generational characteristics that researchers have discovered between Generation X, Generation Y and Baby Boomers. On the other hand, descriptions about the characteristics of these generations often sound like they've come out of a fortune cookie or horoscope. Take this quote from that Psychology Today article:

Gen Y prefers to work in teams not by themselves and they hate conflict. Gen Y are not complainers, nor act like victims. They are hard workers and want to have work that its challenging.



So much of it doesn't ring true to me. First, it often smacks of elitism because it focuses primarily on the children of the wealthy, well-educated parents. (This Gawker post says it all -- as does the Washington Post article on which it was based). Second, it speaks in sweeping generalizations. How can a whole generation be "hard workers who don't act like victims"? And finally, so many of the characteristics of the generations bleed into each other so that boomers try to emulate the texting and Facebooking ways of their children while high schoolers check their Blackberries on the soccer field because they are mirroring their parents' behavior. (This is why I love this post by Penelope Trunk offering a new way to think about which generation you belong to.)

What do you think -- is there truth to all of these stereotypes about the generations or is it just a lot of hype geared to keep consultants in business?

Even if there's wisdom to the endless chatter about generational differences, are employers still worried about this issue now that they can hire from the vast pool of talented candidates of all ages desperately looking for work?