I know that I've felt awkward in "traditional workplaces", and a USA Today story (via ACM Career News) has some good points on what so many of my Generation (the boringly named "Y", simply because it follows "X" alphabetically) are expecting of the workplace. First of all, I felt particularly striking was the "About Gen Y Workers" sidebar:
:High expectations of self: They aim to work faster and better than other workers.
:High expectations of employers: They want fair and direct managers who are highly engaged in their professional development.
:Ongoing learning: They seek out creative challenges and view colleagues as vast resources from whom to gain knowledge.
:Immediate responsibility: They want to make an important impact on Day 1.
:Goal-oriented: They want small goals with tight deadlines so they can build up ownership of tasks.
For the rest, I'm just going to quote the ACM synopsis, which I think pulls out most of the article's major points:
The 70 million or so members of Generation Y are expected to change careers faster than any previous generation, leading to difficulties for employers attempting to retain and recruit talented high-performers. In addition, "Generation Y is much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today's workforce." Most likely, this means that companies will need to foster a work environment that respects the "speak-your-mind philosophy" and independent thinking habits of Generation Y. Failure to do so could mean a loss of these employees to other companies which are more flexible to the needs of Generation Y.
The article also catalogues the characteristics of Gen Y: an understanding of benefits like 401(K) retirement plans; a focus on attaining a work-life balance; an embrace of constant change (new jobs, new careers); and a fervent belief in a casual dress, laidback work environment. Most of all, Gen Y has shown a "total comfort with technology."