I just finished graduate school with a Masters in a part of the HR field. We talked a LOT about generational difference in the workplace; it’s kind of important to understand if you’re going to be training, developing, and mentoring employees somewhere. But it feels like news articles and twitter posts and LinkedIn articles are bursting at the seams with this article or that article about generational differences in the work place.
Case in point, this tongue-in-cheek video that a grad school colleague shared about what it’s like to work with the millennial generation.
(Out of respect to my colleague I should note that he does not believe these things about millennials.)
Although tongue-in-cheek, this video is actually quite offensive to millennials, but is HILARIOUS to most boomers and Gen-Xers who are like, “yeah that’s what it’s like!”
I’m a “cusper” – I fall right on that line between Gen X and Millennials, depending on what study you look at and where the age break is, but typically more towards the Gen X side. But in thought process and mindset I’ve typically always identified more with the millennials than Gen-Xers. (That’s a post for another day.)
So in response to the above video, the same grad school colleague shared this article, which is well worth a read. No seriously. Read it.
And my dear friend and mentor posted this blog post sharing his frustrations about how somehow, in workplaces today, slander and bias against generational differences is still allowed, even though for the most part we’ve stood up for and have policies against slander and bias against gender, race, religion, etc. (Although yes yes – policies may exist but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect or always followed up on. I get it.)
My true millennial-generation friends are quick to point out that not everyone fits these negative stereotypes and, as a matter of fact, this generation seems to care more about social and environmental issues and what all of that means for future generations than any other living generation.
But to the non-millennials (which really includes myself): calm the heck down. If you’re the parent of a millennial and you’re frustrated that millennials seem entitled, remember that it’s partially your fault. Realize that this is the most educated generation in history and that their parents and grandparents and society in general have been telling them for years that “they can do anything they set their mind to” (which is a falsehood of falsehoods) and “a college degree means you’ll get a good job” and “the right person is out there for you”, and they’re finding as they enter their 20s that this is not really the way it is. When you’ve graduated college with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt because your parents or teachers told you “you need to go to college to get a good job”, and you end up selling coffee or bath soap for $8.50/hr and living in your parents’ house because you literally can’t make enough to pay for rent and your student loan payment (which is probably close to a rent payment by itself), and you realize that your degree in music or literature or history or psychology isn’t going to get you anywhere, you’re going to get really frustrated. And yes you may sound entitled, because you’ll say things like “I worked my butt off for a degree and I’m selling soap for $8.50/hr.” That’ll make you sound ungrateful. In reality, they feel duped. The preceding generations have screwed up the economy and the government is jacking up their interest rates for loans and they’re looking down the barrel of feeling like they’ll never dig out of this hole.
So let’s stop dogging the millennials. In fact, let’s stop dogging any generation. It’s age discrimination. Let’s realize there are lazy lazy baby boomers and there are millennials who work their knuckles to the bone and are trying to just get out of the red. Let’s realize that there are some millennials who aren’t comfortable with technology and there are boomers who are all about telecommuting, social media, flex time, etc. Let’s understand where people are coming from and help people work from their areas of strength and passion.
And to my generation, the Gen-Xers – well, there’s a post for you another time. :)