Why Millennials not only suck in the workplace…

Millennials in the workplace
unsplash-logoErik Lucatero

Every once in a while, I have the opportunity to go to offsites organized by my employer. These offsites usually focus on personal development. On one of these occasions, we discussed the Millennial generation. I felt like my generation got completely trashed! – see why in section “Definition of Millenial”. Of course, this wasn’t the case…  But I did not like what was implied – based on documented research that is. So what is the main take-away of this research? And what can we – as a generation –  learn from this?

Definition of Millennial

How do you define millennial? Millennials are people born within the range of 1981 and 1996. Millennials are considered to be entitled, narcissistic and difficult to work with. Ouch – that hurts!

However, Millennials are also considered to be confident and generous. Also, we have a clear desire to build a better world. In the workplace, Millennials want to create meaningful work. Moreover, they place a premium on work-life balance.

Millennials and burn-out

Millennials also have a greater tendency to burn-out, when compared to older generations. How did this happen?

1. Millennials have high expectations.
First of all, our expectations are way too high. We expect to do meaningful work that we like AND get paid a top salary. Also, Millennials have a hard time grasping the fact that before you can do something meaningful, you first need to fail and often.

2. Millennials are used to instant gratification.
Moreover, we grew up in the digital age. And this provides instant gratification. It is very easy to order something online and just get it over mail. We are generally more affluent than previous generations.

3. Millennials do not have well developed coping mechanisms for stress
Further, we did not face as much adversity as other generations. The best example is the “greatest generation”, the generation that grew up in second world war and during the era of rebuilding afterwards. Growing up in adversity makes people more resilient and lets them work together for the greater good. This whereas Millennials were raised to be individualistic, which means that we believe we’re fully responsible for our own happiness or struggles. Therefore, we have less well developed coping mechanisms to deal with stress.

4. Millennials have an addiction to technology and social media
Lastly, it is my personal belief that technology is increasing stress-levels when compared to previous generations. We’re constantly connected and therefore work flows over in the private domain. And we’re currently interrupted. Also, social media makes us feeling inadequate, as other people are only posting when they’ve done something wonderful. Not when they’ve had a bad day and step in the dogshit first thing in the morning.

Now this is enough of the self-deprecation ;). On the one hand, I’m sure some of this research is over-generalizing. However, some of the research definitively has a point. Now, what can we learn from that?

On the bright side…

Here’s what we can learn. In my view, the low hanging fruit here is to be mindful with technology. Do not use social media on a daily basis, because it will make you unhappy. And shut down all the notifications you get, so you have much less distractions. If you want to change your habits with respect to social media, please read this article on habits.

Moreover, let’s take a more positive view on the Millennial generation. As this generation is finally coming of age, we have had to deal with adversity – whether we were good at this or not. Research showed the latter, however we’ve now already withstood the big credit crunch in 2008. This is also the main thing that we should learn from all the criticism on our generation. We need to make sure that we muscle through more difficult challenges in our career (and outside of work).

So, we’re getting “seasoned” in the professional world – which will help our generation tremendously. Moreover, with a more idealistic mentality than our parents, I do hope we will collectively work to transform the current (broken) economic system into a sustainable economy.

Thanks for reading my blogpost and I hope to see you back here next week!


As an encore on this topic, you can view the inspiring and funny interview with Simon Sinek below.

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