Generalising the ‘Entitled’ Millennials – The Battle for Generational Supremacy

This one’s been bugging me for a while. For the past weeks and months I’ve noticed a growing trend in the battle for generational supremacy; it’s quite frankly a little embarrassing. In one corner we have the proclaimed self-absorbed, work-shy, entitled Millennials and their opponent(s) in the other corner the hard working, ever-reliable Generation X-ers and Baby Boomers (or as some of the burned Millennials have over-generalised in defence – those who ruined the economy, exploited the planet’s natural resources and gave us Trump and Brexit). Gee – you think we could just judge people as individuals eh?

Social/ professional networkers peddle the usual survey findings with most of us never taking the time to research the authenticity of the survey itself or properly critique its findings. Take the below for example, we’re fed a brightly coloured info-graph with cartoon characters to grab our attention and pronounce to the world that Millennials are lazy, selfish and unproductive.

Workplace Generations

Apparently according to Simon Sinek this is because we’re delicate little flowers who were told growing up we were special and given unrealistic expectations of life, like that it can be good and that we matter… as opposed to previous generations who I can only then presume he means were told they were garbage and couldn’t be anything. I usually like Simon Sinek’s work too.

Cue the Twittererers and LinkedIn experts fingers burning as they proclaim to the world that Millennials need a reality check “it’s getting out of control what kids these days expect in return for a day’s work”. I know right, you put a nice coloured couch in the canteen too and occasionally buy them ice-cream; how could they not be happy?! Let’s not talk about the wage stagnation suffered by a generation paying higher and higher bills while companies bang on about their record profits. I got my own break in the L&D world by replacing an entire team of professionals made redundant for a salary lower than any one of them individually earned.

Millennial Twitter

It seems easier to criticise those disgruntled in our workforce (also referred to as “Millennials”) than to think, adapt to the world’s changing mind-set and come up with better/ fairer ways of working. How many Millennials have watched their parents work hard their whole lives and reach the end of their careers with nothing to show for it/ panicking about their retirement years? They’ve cottoned on to that and they now realise that if they want their lives to have value and purpose they’ve got to value themselves. Why is it that we criticise someone for walking out of a crap job, going home on time or going travelling when the purpose to life is to fulfil it not get a degree only to land a job fronting up to companies flak in a complaints department for minimum wage?

Millennials have been targeted from birth and when they start to stand up for themselves everyone’s in uproar. Wages have remained the same or been reduced throughout the past generation yet prices have sky-rocketed. The all-important degrees we were pressured to drown ourselves in debt for mean little and many were of poor quality/ total irrelevance in the workplace as employers want degree educated candidates but won’t pay any extra for them. We’re riddled with financial problems growing up in a society hooked on borrowed money/ credit and we’ve been hypnotised from our earliest memories by sexy mass-marketing campaigns targeting us as spending has grown exponentially in this area.

The cat is out of the bag, but is it really just Millennials that are realising this or are people from every generation now more alert to the corporations who have used, abused and got away with it for too long? The difference is that many Millennials are in a position to say sod this and go elsewhere be it to another company or another country where the career conditions may not be much different but the lifestyle at least compensates.

Cat Bag

For older generations many now have more commitments/ responsibilities and maybe they’re more inclined to suck it up when being treated poorly because it’s a risk to whatever/ whoever they have in the rest of their lives to leave. That doesn’t mean they all work harder when they’re there though, if you’ve never heard of presentee-ism it’s basically going to work and flying below the radar, doing just enough to be able to pick up a pay cheque and not get in trouble. It’s said to cost a business more money each year than absenteeism and it’s attributed to those from every generation not just Millennials funnily enough too. We all have our ways of fighting injustice, we’re just targeting Millennials at the moment for doing so. It might be better to think about the sacrifices we as human beings of all eras make for our employers and what more we can give back to people instead if we want an engaged workforce of loyal employees who will fight for us and deliver results.

But then that’s only fair isn’t it?

Who Knows

All this bluff as far as I can see has been created by inadequate managers who can’t be bothered to critique the conundrum of why workers are feeling short-changed and don’t care enough to do anything about it, business consultants trying to sell their products and services by over-complicating it and offering ‘the solution’, and journalists/ authors sensationalising it for attention before enough of us realise what’s going on and start asking questions.


Agree or disagree? Have your say in the comments.

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  1. Manisha

    Great Read! And I can totally agree with your article. The Millennials are just another generation who have been raised in a totally diffrent enviorment. We are no different from other generations. We work hard, and play hard as did those before us. My work ethic comes from watching my parents work hard and provided all that they could, how can this make me a lazy Millennial? I really like the quote you’ve added to your article regarding a new version of Monopoly as it fits the bill for us in this day in age.

  2. John Shields

    Like it or not we need to adapt to or at least understand their way of thinking as they are the future of our economy & society.

    They will soon pass us out on the path way to success & I don’t want to be behind them hearing ” I told you so “

  3. Olivia

    I’ve been working with a group of ‘millenials’ recently and I am getting really fed up with the general and negative labels applied to this generation. (Ironically) my generalised opinion of the particular group that I work wit,h is that their central focus is on happiness, health, family, friends and love. Interestingly these themes also cross genders. Whats not to admire in love being a main driver in or out of the workplace? I’m listening and learning from these guys – we all should!
    (Also I am fairly horrified at the graphic above – why is this lady wearing a strapless summer pink dress and heels??)

  4. Sandra

    Really nice read. As an early Gen X I have been guilty of thinking that ‘the younger generation’ have a sense of entitlement that out-weighs their worth; but then I remember my peers when starting out in our careers and I’m sure there were a few who were the same, just as there will have been individuals in every generation and walk of life who are different from us and therefore stand out.

    I think our attitudes (and therefore behaviours) are more down to the context of our individual up-bringing and current environment, not our age. My parents were older and had been brought up during the war and with a strong sense of class – so my early understanding of the world was to know your place and not expect much from the world. What I’ve learned is that, as the world changes ever more quickly, the most important skill we all have is to learn, be aware of our changing environment and adapt – not just our skills, but our attitudes and beliefs – if we are to survive and prosper. I think that’s something the so-called Millennials do rather well.

    It’s easy to point and sneer when you don’t understand or are confronted with change. You’re right that a little more sharing of ideas and helping each other along would go a long way to helping us all get along better in the world.

  5. siobhan mooney

    Great read. Thanks

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