What if every assumption or stereotype our culture has about millennials in the workforce just isn’t true? What if most millennials aren’t entitled overachievers who expect more than they are worth while doing less work than everyone else?
There have been countless studies regarding the millennial generation — some of which confirm the stereotypes — and we all have that one (or two, or a dozen) millennial in our life who lives up to our worst assumptions about the age group. This has made our culture to fear the worst and believe negative news that we would otherwise doubt.
But Laszlo Bock, the man who runs Human Resources for none other than Google, offered another perspective on why everyone believes the worst about millennials. Lazslo’s take? These stereotypes have been seen in our culture before; in fact, they are cyclical.
In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, Laszlo was quoted as saying the following: “What we’ve seen is that every single generation enters the work force and feels like they’re a unique generation, and the generation that’s one or two ahead of them looks back and says, ‘Who are these weird, strange kids coming into the work force with their attitudes of entitlement and not wanting to fit in? It’s a cycle that’s been repeated every 10 to 15 years for the last 50 years…If you look at what their underlying needs and aspirations are, there’s no difference at all between this new generation of workers and my generation and my father’s generation.”
Google is famous for analyzing data regarding its workplace and using empirical evidence to adjust its management practices. And where one might assume that Google employs mostly young people, it actually boasts employees from a span of ages, including people in their 80s. Perhaps this insight into human management is why Google has won No. 1 for seven straight years in Fortune Magazine’s “Top 100 Best Companies to Work For” survey.
But Lazslo isn’t alone in insisting the generations are the same. Many new studies on millennials have begun contradicting the old assumptions — such as a study on millennial parents run a few years ago by Barkley.
According to the Barkley study, “only seven percent of all millennial parents can be categorized as the millennial stereotype that focuses on name brands, stretches their incomes to the limit and are tech savvy.”
“Millennials are not that different [from other generations],” said David Gutting, VP-strategy director at Barkley. “We can’t keep going to marketing conferences talking about millennials as though they’re these oddities.”
When it comes to your business, your employees or your worry about the future, rest assured: there really is nothing new under the sun. If you don’t believe me, just ask your parents what they thought when you were in your 20s and early 30s.
Emily Enger is a Millennial farm kid turned farm journalist. She also works in marketing, serving as communications director for a nonprofit that covers nine rural counties in northern Minnesota. These opinions are her own and should not take the place of legal or professional advice. To comment or pitch future topics, email her at emilygraceenger@gmail.com . For reprint permission, email editor Joan Kark-Wren at jkarkwren@leepub.com .