I’ve attended many conference sessions and training courses during the past few years that tried to explain the significance of generational differences in the workplace, and why Baby Boomers like me were going to have to adjust our thinking and actions as “Gen Yers” begin to work alongside us.

The topic has become so overworked, in my opinion, that last September, I nearly skipped the Keynote Session at the Melcrum Strategic Communication Management Summit in Chicago. All I saw was its title: “Unlocking Gen Y’s Loyalty, Creativity, and Performance.” “Not again,” I thought. After all, I had just participated in a training course at work on the topic of generations in the workforce, and the presenters at a pre-conference workshop at the 2008 Melcrum “Summit” event in Chicago had included the same discussion as part of their session.

What else could I possibly learn?

It turned out that I could learn a lot, and am very glad that I decided to stay at the Keynote Session. The speaker was Jason Ryan Dorsey, author of books including “Graduate to Your Perfect Job” and “My Reality Check Bounced.” Dorsey is funny, well-spoken and in-touch with the latest generation to enter the workforce because he is a member of Gen Y. In fact, I learned a couple of things about Gen Y that I want to share with you, and you can learn more by visiting Jason’s website.

First, don’t believe anyone who tells you that you can instantly tell everything about a group of employees simply based on their birth dates. That’s too much like Horoscopes, and most of us know to keep a skeptical eye on something that is generalized to such an extreme.

Jason will tell you that. He pointed out to the Melcrum Summit audience how Gen Yers are said to be technically savvy–after all, they were handed laptops right after their first pacifiers, and latched onto text messaging long before they completed DARE training in middle school. Yet, the reality is that someone who knows how to operate a device such as a mobile phone and its texting option is not necessarily a technical savant.

“Usually on the first day of a new job, some Baby Boomer comes up to us and says that he couldn’t figure out how to hook up the PC to the printer, but he figured that we would know how to do it,” Dorsey said. “Well, we have no clue, but we can look at the pictures in the user manual and try to figure it out.”

Another generalization about Gen Y that Dorsey discussed was the lenth of time they are willing to wait until deciding to leave a particular job. Whereas the World War II generation expected to be at the same job for an entire career, and Baby Boomers typically gave a new job 1-2 years before deciding to move on, “Gen Yers know by lunch whether we’re going to come back the next day,” Dorsey said.

Well, I’ve hired and worked with people from a range of generations who held that same attitude. And a little thing we call the “economic meltdown” probably has skewed that job-hopping statistic a bit.

Age isn’t the only measuring stick, and it isn’t one of the more reliable, in my opinion.