Last week on Tanveer Naseer’s business blog, Dr. Brett Simmons wrote a guest post discussing studies done on the work ethic of Millenials. The main point included how the results of these studies claimed the Millenial workforce being lazier and wanting more for less. It isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this out there and it definitely won’t be the last.
Are they right though? Being a millennial myself, I’ll do my best to look at both sides of the coin:
The Devil’s Advocate Approach
Stereotypes are almost always born out of some degree of truth. Our culture has unfortunately bred a mentality of “good enough” instead of “excellence.” The need to go over and beyond in work is not felt by many (young and old workers alike). Growing up in school, I saw a progression of being rewarded for going over and beyond my expectations to seeing rewards for just doing what was mandatory. In several cases, doing just enough to get by is completely acceptable in school…and encouraged by some. There’s a mentality (though certainly not a universal one) to just get kids to pass and get out.
Does this mentality carry over into Millenial work habits?
Being rewarded just for doing what’s required is almost expected sometimes. There is definitely a need for recognition and praise for doing one’s job (I work in an industry completely built on that idea). We are viewed as feeling entitled to a lot for a relatively small amount of work. In a world rapidly filling up with 20something start-up millionaires, the old viewpoint of having to “pay your dues” is rapidly diminishing. We want success and want it NOW. Unfortunately, we aren’t all Mark Zuckerburg and won’t all be near as fortunate near as quickly.
I’ve been fortunate to have been grounded in the working hard and being patient with success. I haven’t gotten where I ultimately where I want to be yet professionally but then again – I am just 23. These things take time and it’s easy to lose sight of that. However, I know I’m not the only one in the boat of feeling like I should be seeing success sooner.
A Misunderstood Generation
On the flipside, Millenials are – IMHO – unfairly generalized. Sure there are those who are lazier and falsely entitled among us…but there are those in EVERY generation. Our generation has more than a fair share of those who know success doesn’t come easy and are willing to work hard to achieve it. Sure we’d love to be on next month’s issue of Fast Company for TIME for our raging successes, but we’re also realistic. We know that a special level of excellence and hard work is essential to truly be successful.
In a technologically advancing world – we get it. We understand how communication in business is going to change and are willing to adapt, even if our superiors are hesitant to. Some of our elders think this social thing is a waste of time and a fad. Telecommuting and working from home are for those who are lazy. However, the Millenials are the ones that will be leading business in the future (if we aren’t already). How we communicate with each other now will most likely reflect how businesses will communicate in the future. Those forward thinking companies that embrace our technological skill sets and our unique way of doing work (instead of writing us off) will be ones that succeed down the road.
Our style of work (especially if you run social media for a company) seems like play. But it’s work and a lot of it. Just because some of us resist the 8-5 cubicle culture doesn’t mean we’re not willing to get stuff done.
Personally, I would definitely count myself as one with the mentality that hard work will get you places. I may not see success overnight. This doesn’t mean I have a passive approach to my professional growth – I don’t think things will just happen. I’m not pessimistic about my dreams. I do know that hard work and perseverance not only builds the type of character to lead but also opens more doors down the road than doing otherwise.
That’s just a few ideas about the great Millenial debate out there. This is where you all come in. Young and old, what do you all think?
Has my generation been unfairly judged? Or have we justly earned our stereotypes?