A Case For Millennials
A few weeks ago I posted an opinion piece about Millennials’ watered down definition of hard work. I received a handful of chuckle responses from some Gen X colleagues, but I also heard from Millennials who felt unfairly stereotyped by my post. So I started wondering if there was a valid argument in their protests, and began reading up on work motivations from a Millennial perspective. That’s how I discovered a really interesting article about how Gen Xers like me can’t fairly assess our Millennial coworkers because of our generational differences.
Gen Xers entered the workforce in a completely different era than today. We still lived in a world where there was an assumed bargain with our employers that if we worked hard and paid our dues, we’d be rewarded with raises and promotions over time. As a result we stayed with the same employer, sometimes with blind loyalty, and were hopefully rewarded as the years went by. I’m actually a perfect example of this phenomenon since I’ve only worked for two companies over a 24 year media career. As a result of this experience we Gen Xers still view work through this hard-work-for-reward-bargain lens.
Now compare Millennials’ work perspectives. Workers in their late-20s to early-30s came into the workforce right after the Great Recession, and were thrust into a tech driven environment of non-stop change. As a result Millennials learned they were more likely to get fired, let go, or shut down. Since they expected to leave positions in a shorter amount of time, they gravitated to companies and jobs which could grow their skill sets, pay competitively, and allow them to take on more responsibility quickly. This perspective isn’t better or worse than Gen-Xers’ values, it’s just different.
Which gets me to the point of this post. Gen Xers like myself can’t effectively judge our Millennial coworkers because we were pre-programmed for work in completely different era. If anything, Millennials should be commended for their audacity and adaptability to succeed in a more chaotic and confusing work environment than us old timers ever new.