Why blame the millennials?


May 16, 2018 // Thought Leadership

By Barry LaBov

A cry that is heard all too often today is how difficult the millennial generation is. They don’t care, they don’t put in time, they are on their phone all day long, they don’t respect what the older generation has done, etc. Before I go further, I reject the idea that a label can accurately describe millions of unique people, but for the sake of this post, I will look at their generation in general.

I am not a millennial, not even close. I am a so-called baby boomer who loves and respects millennials for many of their traits. They are scapegoats for a very real shift in the workplace. I will cover both topics. 

The traits I love about millennials include their valuing of personal time with friends and family. They have a far better perspective than I did growing up. I blindly sacrificed whatever it took to please bosses, clients, etc. I love their understanding of technology. They get it, they live it, they master technology. My generation was told, “Be careful, don’t break that.” This generation tries to break it, they play with technology, and I have a lot to learn from that. They are energized by causes—causes that mean something to them. They will give time and thought to things they believe in, regardless of any payback. That’s inspiring.

Now on to the fact that millennials are scapegoats for our workplace issues. I do believe that in general people work fewer hours. Maybe they care less about business, perhaps they don’t respect the leaders of their organization and have little to no interest in long-term commitment to a company, let alone advancement. In fact, a large percentage of people simply don’t want to work. I laugh when I hear politicians claim they will bring more jobs back to America as if that will be universally embraced. It won’t be to the person who doesn’t care to work.

If the above issues at the workplace are all millennial issues, then I have to say I have met millennials whose ages range from 18 to 75 years old. We are seeing a shift at the workplace that is far more than one coming from people born in the millennial generation. According to Gallup, 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged. Disengaged employees are costing organizations between $450 and $500 billion a year (The Engagement Institute). That’s due in part to the fact that disengaged employees are less productive. These numbers are not solely based on millennial workers. This is a trend across the spectrum of U.S. workers.

In summary, there is no millennial problem. We may have a workplace problem that the leaders at their companies own. If so, the millennials can be great allies in helping create a better business model with their strengths in technology and unique perspective.