The Misunderstood Millennials


Motivational speaker Simon Sinek’s confidently communicated thoughts on millennials in the workplace have filled my professional and personal timelines for the past week. ‘This guy just NAILED what it is to be a “Millennial’. Of course I was intrigued to hear what an eminent man from the preceding generation had to say on people in my age bracket that apparently hit the so-called nail on the head. At times I found his words to be honest, at times I found them to be hyperbole.

The issue his, and older generations, conjectures is believing we’re all grey crayons in a set of 50 shades of grey, as if we all grew up with the same kind of parenting, the same sort of schooling, the same accesses to technology, or the same opportunities, and that therefore we all think alike. The implication that these assertions applied to us as a whole was evident, however, I believe this over-generalisation to relate to a very small percentage of our Millennial workforce. But unfortunately, with the popularity of this opinion growing by the day, many young adults are accepting this as their self-fulfilling prophecy, when employers need to be held to account.

bg-c6355e45source: the guardian

A word that keeps cropping up in connection with Millennials is ‘entitlement’. It is hard to hear this coming from older generations since their expectations of owning a home, job security and a retirement package have all been met for the most part, despite a few minor bumps along the way. Yet there is a lack of security throughout our young adulthood and beyond. A lack of job security despite working several unpaid internships whilst holding down your part-time position. The burden of a lifetime of student debt due to fierce competition and the ever-growing opinion that a career without a degree is borderline impossible. The distant and near impossible dream of ever taking your first step on to the property ladder. Having to work well into your seventies with no likelihood of a meaningful retirement plan.

So before you try and label us ‘entitled’, I urge you to take these factors into consideration and ask yourselves why we should settle for mediocre careers when the lack of pay and security means it simply is not worth it?

Blaming parents seems to be a familiar go-to when discussing difficulties in society. Sinek suggests that one aspect of why so many millennials are unhappy at work is due to parenting. By encouraging our younger selves with positive re-enforcement and participation trophies, parents have apparently set our generation up for a “shattered self-esteem” upon starting work and realising they aren’t special at all. I am assuming since Simon Sinek did not grow up in a world that thrives off perfection, ‘likes’ and beauty, that he did not realise his statement could not be further from the truth. Our shattered self-esteem is a combination of not feeling valued within society, constantly being put down by our peers and fearing failure. At a time where depression, anxiety and suicide rates are the highest they have ever been, positive re-enforcement from our parents and more importantly, our work team, is exactly what we need.

And as for free lunches, beanbag chairs and instant gratification, I can assure you that Millennials could not care less. How about being able to afford higher education, healthcare and earning a living wage? The idea that we want a free pass in life is nonsense, all we want is access to the same advantages that previous generations had and have since taken away from us.


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