You know you’re guilty of saying it, or at least thinking it, at some point: “Ugh. Young people these days!” And often, you are probably justified in the sentiment.
I’ll admit to something we Millennials have valiantly tried to keep secret: we do make mistakes — a lot of them. And sometimes, those mistakes are tied to our age: our naiveté, unique work ethic, over enthusiasm, and more have all led us to err.
But there is another thing that needs to be admitted: sometimes Millennials make mistakes not because we are young, but because we are human. Just because a mistake was made does not signify that the mistake was due to youth. And often, Millennials face the extra pressure of older adults adding additional weight to every decision we make, as if there is a secret root cause that must be sussed out. In turn, such added scrutiny also leads to adults not trusting Millennials as much as they trust other people, causing Millennials to have to strive harder to win respect.
Did your employee really make that bookkeeping error because young people are too dependent on technology and have lost all basic math skills? Or is it possible that other people, of other ages, could have made the same mistake? Is it possible that you could have made the same mistake?
Recently, a peer of mine vented about his boss’s response to a scheduling error. “It was like he thought I was late on purpose!” my friend said. “He didn’t seem to believe that I just honestly thought I was working a different shift that week. This has never happened before. Why would he have such low respect for my work ethic?”
Sometimes, it feels like older generations are watching us Millennials in hopes that we actually do screw up. They can’t wait to chastise us, blame us, or tell another funny joke about us to their buddies. That doesn’t exactly make for an easy work environment. In 2015, the American Psychological Association found that Millennials are now the most stressed generation in the workforce – which is shocking, considering the young, carefree phase of life we are in. The reason for the stress is multi-faceted – certainly, it isn’t just because our boss is making assumptions. But the weight of the extra magnifying glass doesn’t help the stress level, either.
When correcting your employee, be sure that your reaction is appropriate to the crime committed. It’s not going to help your employee if he or she feels that everything they do is an indicator of some bigger problem. And it’s not going to help your business if you’re busy trying to correct problems that are either nonexistent or not the real root of the issue.
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 For reprint permission, email editor Joan Kark-Wren at