COVID-19 Update

It’s Time to Stop with the Millennial Bashing

Across-the-board criticism of millennials’ work ethic (read: millennial bashing) isn’t right, it’s unprofessional, it’s bad business management and it needs to stop.

Tom LeBlanc Leave a Comment
It’s Time to Stop with the Millennial Bashing

There is an epidemic of older business leaders dismissing an entire generation of young professionals -- millennials.

Business leaders across all industries and generations should collectively look in the mirror and decide that enough is enough with the overt discrediting and diminishing of millennial employees. In other words, stop the millennial bashing.

It’s fine to criticize individuals who demonstrate an unearned sense of entitlement or unprofessionalism.

It’s fine to draw a line in the sand when it comes to irresponsible or careless use of social media during company time.

It’s fine to stand by company policies when it comes to work hours and when employees need to be in the office.

What’s not fine is generalizing an entire group of people.

That is never fine. We should all agree on that.

There are now more millennials, between the ages of 18 and 34, in the U.S. than Baby Boomers making it the nation’s largest living generation, according to Pew Research Center. That 2016 research estimates millennials at 75.4 million. That’s a lot of people to lump into a bucket.

When the industry seems to collectively criticize millennials’ work ethic it reminds me of a bunch of old men yelling at kids to stop cutting through their lawns.

I find it surprising that so often at integration industry conferences the conversation devolves into millennial bashing.

During NSCA’s 19th annual Business & Leadership Conference in March, Deloitte’s Cathy Benko delivered a keynote presentation on the concept of developing a corporate lattice (instead of the traditional vertical corporate ladder) which she wrote about in her book, The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance In the Changing World of Work.

Benko’s speech included a section in which she described a bulleted list of millennial employees’ ideals and characteristics. Much of what she said was complimentary (at least that’s how I interpreted it), but perception is everything. As she described her views on millennial employees’ approaches to things like company loyalty and respect for higher-ups, there were smatters of dismissive laughter from the crowd.

Related: The Problem Isn’t with Millennials. It’s with Old People. 

At one point Benko indulged the frustration that many employers have with millennial employees. She polled the audience on points of contention they have with young members of their organization. Once she roused the audience, she told them to “Get over it, because it’s not going anywhere.”

The “because it’s not going anywhere” part isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but I can get behind the “get over it” part.

A Management Issue, Not a Personnel Issue

The integration industry should be embracing its next generation of leadership. It’s easy to scoff at the concept of those young professionals eventually leading their organizations. It’s harder to envision how prior generations might have viewed you when you were between the ages of 18 and 34.

The workplace has changed. Nobody knows that better than those in the integration industry. It’s not just the technology that has changed. A more digital environment has simply changed the way people work. It’s less physical. That goes for the services that integration firms provide to its customers, too. Installing hardware is still vital, but less tangible solutions such as software development and managed services are also gobbling up employees’ time.

Young employees have different expectations when they enter the workforce than previous generations did. That should be obvious since they’re entering a workforce that offers different solutions.

Meanwhile, those previous generations seem to disregard that they may have appeared brash or entitled to their seniors. When the industry seems to collectively criticize millennials’ work ethic it reminds me of a bunch of old men yelling at kids to stop cutting through their lawns.

A person is a millennial based simply on their age. Each millennial is different. Some are ambitious. Others are not. Some are loyal. Others are not. Some excelled in school. Others did not. Some come from supportive families. Others do not.  Some are active or former military (average age of all U.S. armed forces falls into the millennial category). Others are not.

The same can be said for individuals in all previous generations.

When you have issues with employees, take it up with them. Hold them accountable. Remember that your challenge relates to individuals, not an entire generation.

Related: Tips for Employee Retention — Culture, Culture, Culture and Culture

About the Author

Tom LeBlanc
Contact:

Tom LeBlanc is the director of industry outreach and media channels for NSCA. Learn more about NSCA and how to become an NSCA member at NSCA.org.

Accelerating The Next Stage of Business

November 17-19, 2021 | Orlando, FL

Apply to join the elite in the integration industry.

Comments

  • Mike Sims says:

    Give me millennials any day over old farts (and I include myself in the OF category). We OFs tend to be stuck in our ways of doing things and we expect everyone to “just know” what our expectations are without having to make them clear. The millennials I work with are knowledge sponges and suggest all sorts of ways our organization can be better that come specifically from their age and worldview. Viva la millennials!

  • John Greene says:

    Tom,

    One of the major walk away from the BLC was this topic. It is tired and weary and a bit surprising that there is any conversation outside of acceptance of this generation who offers so much promise as well as other generations. Taking a generalist approach or understanding of any group is a very lazy. The management challenge is working with the individual and gaining an understanding of their capabilities and leveraging each of those to success. If it does not work; then accepting the weight of the failure from both sides of the employee/company scale. We would not be as successful as we are currently without a fresh mix of approaches and ideas. Since you took on this topic, if you could tackle the next windmill; stop people from saying AV/IT, I would be in forever in your debt.

  • Tom, I totally agree with everything you stated in your article. Well said! All my best, Christina

  • itmom says:

    I work with a bunch of Millenial’s and although they might be smart in the new technology, they lack all the social skills that are needed to perform a job in a professional manner. They go after the older worker trying to make them look as if they are a useless piece of furniture and try to get management to give them the boot. They are your friend one day and the next, you are being called into the managers office with absurd accusations with no indication beforehand. Could also be a management problem but my manager is about my age and is eating it all up. Guess he wants to be young again? Not all Millenials are this way. My son in law is a well respected man who grew up with theses sloths. In no way would he ever treat any co worker in this manner, no matter what their age. These newbie’s tend to forget that I took them under my wing and taught them and continue to teach them all about our working environment. But the day has come that they feel that I’am needed any longer. Too bad for them. Bad choice on their part. Still trying to figure out what might have brought them to diss me in such a way that I could loose my job. Hateful if anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *