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First there were the Baby Boomers, then Generation X, and now we have….the millennials.
It sounds like it should refer to a slick troupe of pilots in a Star Wars film, or some wizened old veterans, but no, ‘millennial’ has become the latest dirty word to generalise a generation and patronise your peers.
Every day seems to bring a new ‘how to attract/retain/engage your millennial workforce’ article, consistently reminding us how different, how demanding, how disloyal, how mind-boggling we are as employees.
And do you know what? I don’t buy it. Maybe that’s just my Gen Y arrogance talking and my inability to take criticism, but I find it hard to believe that the expectations we have on our employers and indeed ourselves is so different to any other generation at our age. Personal development, job security, respect – are you telling me that my parents and grandparents didn’t want those things?
The bottom line is, we now live in a much busier, techier and complex world, and with that comes a different set of expectations, needs and challenges – for everyone.
I understand that there is always going to be a difficulty between generations understanding each other, but I also don’t think that the current generation entering the workforce is any worse, or any more demanding than their predecessors.
Same same, but different
Every time I hear or read the word ‘millennial’ I bristle – is this what my manager thinks of me? That I’m a high maintenance addition to an otherwise placid team who will happily do as they’re told, no questions asked?
Nonsense; in every organisation I’ve ever worked at, I’ve been surrounded by colleagues of all ages and backgrounds, and you know what, we ALL want our opinions to be listened to, we ALL want an opportunity to progress in our careers, we ALL want honest leadership, and we ALL want meaningful feedback from our managers (funnily enough, my grandad’s bullsh*t detector is just as finely tuned as my own, who knew?)
Surely boiling down these younger employees down to a single definition is only exacerbating the problem?
We’re constantly being told that there’s a big problem with employees trusting management; in particular the communication between older managers and younger, more junior members of a company. Surely boiling down these younger employees down to a single definition is only exacerbating the problem?
Here are just a few of my favourite lines from the metaphorical dung pile of ‘thought pieces’ on ‘millennials’ that I’ve read in the past week alone – the amount of insight here is almost tantamount to that in the horoscope section of Cosmopolitan:
“Millennials are far more accustomed to receiving praise, congratulations and positive reinforcement as opposed to criticism and negative feedback.”
They also weren’t smacked enough as children.
“Millennials don’t trust Chief Executive Officers, politicians, or any other business leaders”
We grew up with Rupert Murdoch, George Bush and Mr Burns – what choice did we have?
“By hiring talented Millennials, you will naturally attract more talented Millennials”
This is a beautifully David Attenborough-esque sentiment, don’t you think?
In summary, this isn’t just jargon, it’s defamation.
Let’s put the term ‘millennials’ in the bin forever. Please.