The Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, are now largest living generation in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials accounted for 74.8 million Americans in 2014 compared to 74.9 million Baby Boomers. Since 2015, Millennials have been the majority.
Making their way in the world, Millennials must overcome a false perception of being the “Orange slices for everyone” generation. Jonathan Wieler, a Director of Undergraduate Studies at UNC Chapel Hill once described the phenomenon for The Huffington Post.
“All of this is connected to a larger narrative about how “molly-coddled” — to use a favorite expression of the legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson — kids are today. And — it often goes without saying — this indulgence is directly connected to the downfall of our culture.”
Entering the workforce is hard enough for aspiring 9-to-5 neophyte, let alone for a molly-coddled, culture-destroying Millennial apparently. Perhaps new hires should work on an end zone-worthy celebration dance for the first time the successfully send an email. It would be tragic to leave the expectations of older colleagues unfulfilled apparently. Although evidently even Millennials themselves are now getting into the spirit of ‘Millennial shaming’:
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) April 29, 2016
Described below are a series of examples of common Millennial (mis)perceptions in the workplace.
Lack of Commitment or Impatience with Lack of Growth?
The concept of lifetime employment and a golden watch at retirement went to pasture in America at least a generation ago. However, Millennials are often criticized for being less likely to be loyal company soldiers.
Although Millennials are expected to comprise 75 percent of the American workforce by 2030, they are perceived to demonstrate lack of loyalty. The average tenure of today’s Millennial is two years, although one could argue that a lack of job stability was more of a byproduct of the state of the economy than a reflection of worker loyalty.
Corporate layoffs, company reorganizations, outsourcing, and other pitfalls of the modern economy demonstrate plenty of good reasons why “looking out for number one” shouldn’t be considered to be such a bad quality for workers to have.
Challenging the Notion of an Entitled Generation
Another common complaint about Millennials is an attitude that is perceived as arrogance, overconfidence, or entitlement. The idea is that the Millennial generation grew up in an era when instilling self-esteem was paramount among both educators and parents. As a result, many expect praise when they don’t deserve it or failed to understand that it takes years of hard work and sacrifice to advance in a company.
However, Millennials are more gracious and selfless than often given credit for. A recent CNBC article stated that “84 percent of millennials made a charitable donation in 2014, and 70 percent spent at least an hour volunteering.” Given the limited amount of savings and high amount of student debt most Millennials have, those stats speak loudly.
Are today’s younger employees really more entitled than generations past? Or could it be yet another case of “back in my day-ism,” where surely employees had to walk uphill, through snowstorms, both to and from work each day. That same sort of logic also suggests that Cedric Ceballos and the 1993-94 Suns could beat today’s Golden State Warriors. Take it for what it’s worth.
Addicted to Tech, or Just More Tech Savvy?
As the first generation with everyday use of the Internet and various types of electronic communication, Millennials know how to get to the point. This often makes them more productive and better communicators than those in their late 30s and older. They also tend to be more skilled at networking due to the ability to communicate with anyone at any time they have enjoyed throughout their lives. Marketers are even adapting their messaging to better target social media-savvy Millennials:
As the technologically savvy, digitally centered, social media dominated Millennial generation comes of age and begi…https://t.co/gFvaUnDqfI
— Ignasi Barri (@iGNASI85) January 25, 2016
However, this familiarity with technology also raises concerns about over-usage of social media. In fact, there are now dedicated institutions for recovering from “teen social media addiction.” In the workplace, there is a fine line between tech and social media savvy being an asset vs. an HR violation.
Are Millennials narcissistic and lazy creatures, slowly send our culture to its downfall? Or perhaps are these just tired stereotypes passed down from generation to generation as each new wave or workers enters the business world? Start preparing your best slander for Generation Z in the next few years!