I work with so many wonderful people at the office every day. The department I work in ranges in age from people in their early twenties to their mid to late fifties. This one girl in particular named Stella, is in her early twenties and is an absolute delight to work with. She’s got such a positive outlook on life, a healthy smile everyday, intelligence and is incredibly hard working and dedicated. Similarly, there’s a few other ladies who fall under the generation we call Millennials. And all of them are just as hard working, dedicated and willing to lend a helping hand every single day without complaining.
I had a recent discussion/debate the other day with a couple of my fellow forty-something year old friends.
They shared their opinion on how Millennials are a generation of young adults who take their employment for granted by having unrealistic salary expectations, job titles and extra vacation time based on their limited employment experience. They summarized their points and concluded that Millennials have an overall attitude of being entitled.
And I’ve heard this same criticism before, not just from my friends that Millennials are a bunch of spoiled and entitled kids who don’t appreciate the experience that older generations can provide.
Stop there for a moment and back the truck up, fellow Gen-Xers!
First of all, let’s remove the generalization that all Millennials are an entitled group.
Let’s ask ourselves why do we make such unjustified generalizations about them?
- Are we envious of them?
- Is it fair to generalize the entire generation when you’ve only had experience with a handful of entitled young adults?
- Are we afraid of them? (I’ll get into this in point number two)
If you’ve had some bad experiences working with people who happen to be Millennials, it’s unjust to tag the entire generation as entitled. However, it is fair to say that you work with some young, new employees who are brash, difficult and unreasonable with their job expectations. I’m sure you work with some difficult people who happen to be Gen-X-ers but you won’t generalize about them, would you?
Sometimes I hear people mocking at Millennials for taking days off for stress. I actually like and respect the idea of stress leave because it tells me that they are more self-aware of their minds and doing a much better job at looking after their mental health. Mental health and illness is not visible, so let’s stop making fun of them for suggesting to take stress days. Instead, let’s applaud them for being so cognizant!
Secondly, let’s look inward and see where the real problem is.
Although I work with such wonderful younger people, there is a small handful that I have a hard time seeing eye-to-eye with. Sure, it’s easier for me to externalize and blame the individuals for being difficult and maybe they are. But at the end of the day, I feel it’s more productive to look at myself as well. At times, I have felt insecure with my job over the years. I’ve felt as though “people were trying to weed me out” or deliberately leave me out of meetings. I’ve sometimes felt inadequate and maybe under qualified to do certain tasks. My fear and insecurity makes me externalize the situation and I begin blaming and criticizing others. At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with a generation of Millennials…it’s more about my own insecurity.
Thirdly, it’s time to accept change, old-timers!
The one thing I love about working with Stella is that she brings such a fresh outlook on things. She shares her personal experiences on certain topics and I sometimes live vicariously through her youth. She has such a positive energy that I sometimes need, with my increasingly cynical attitude.
The tough part for me (I won’t generalize about Gen X) is that the more experience I have through the years, the more cynical I can become. Basically my attitude is that “I’ve been there and done that.” It’s harder for me to adapt to change because it’s outside of my comfort zone which brought me success over the years. However, if I don’t change my attitude with the times, I truly will become obsolete and may eventually become that Grumpy Old Man from Saturday Night Live who everyone laughs at because of his unwillingness to evolve!
Lastly, fellow Gen-Xers…here’s a secret….we created them!
Generation X grew up during an era of transitions. My parents immigrated here from the country of Brunei to provide me with a better life. They came over to Canada with a mere $500 and made the most of it by working hard, day-in and day-out, saving and penny-pinching to buy that bigger home for us to grow up in. Times were tough for me because I grew up in a home with abuse and a lot of anger. I had very little emotional bonds with my parents and family members, but I was fortunate to have a roof over my head, an education and food.
When my son was born, I made several promises to myself: I wouldn’t raise him like how my dad raised me AND I would provide him with the things I didn’t have growing up. I want him to be fortunate enough to have every opportunity possible for a happier and healthier life. I provide him with his basic needs and more! This includes access to technology, opportunities to partake in social activities, attending the best schools, a bit of spending money, annual vacations and other luxuries that are wants rather than needs. Although he still needs to earn them, it’s a lot more attainable for him compared to when I was growing up.
I think some Gen-Xers might agree that we partially created what we call “entitlement”. We’ve made things easier for the younger generation so that they don’t have to go through the same hardships as we did. So let’s not condemn the younger generation with a negative tagline because that would be so unloving as parents and also tearing into our own creation. I agree that there’s a lot of Millennials who feel entitled, but then again, there’s a lot Gen-Xers who are as well. Let’s just shed ourselves from the generalizations and look at everyone independently.
So there’s my little luv for the day, sent out to all the Millennials of the world, especially to Stella and my friends.
Cheers and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Your grumpy ol’ Gen-Xer.