Squashing the Myth of Millennial Entitlement

Photo: Tim Gouw

Three in four Americans believe that today’s youth are less virtuous and industrious than their elders.

That’s a pretty shocking trend — one that comes with some serious sociocultural implications.

There’s a consistent historical mythos of younger generations being attributed as entitled, lazy, and careless, however few have come under fire for these traits more than millennials in recent years.

In fact, everything from political affiliations to workplace dynamics can apparently be explained by the millennial generation’s out-of-touch mindset, apathetic worldview, and general snobbishness towards anything not considered “easy”.

So…is it true?

I don’t want to blast any opinions today, which is why all of the data below will be directly sourced from empirical studies and surveys from accredited institutions.

Let’s put this to rest once and for all: are millennials the problem?

The Numbers

• 44 percent of students today say that their own work or personal savings helped finance their higher education.

• Between 1989 and 2006, the share of teenagers who were volunteering doubled to 26.4 percent from 13.4 percent, and the share of incoming college freshmen who say they plan to volunteer is at a record high of 32.1 percent.

• Millennials work on average 52 hours per week.

• Millennials are more likely to forfeit unused vacation days than other groups — 24% of Millennials, 19% of Gen Xers, and 17% of Boomers forfeited time off that they’d earned.

• Millennials were much more likely (59%) to feel ashamed for taking or planning a vacation than workers 35 or older (41%).

• A team of researchers led by Keith Zabel of Wayne State University examined 77 different studies comprising 105 distinct measurements of work ethic. Their analysis revealed no significant differences in work ethic among different generations.

• Millennial median income is the lowest of any generation.

It appears that many Americans hold a view of millennials that flat-out isn’t accurate. Millennials don’t work less than other generations, don’t expect more, and surely don’t lack in work ethic.

Then how come they get paid so little?

There’s many plausible reasons for this. For one, millennials have the highest rate of college degrees — 34% of them have higher education experience, as opposed to 24% of Boomers. This huge increase means more supply for companies, and less value for millennials.

Additionally, Boomers aren’t retiring. In fact, Over 20% of people over 65 in America are still working, and 27% of Americans say they will, “keep working as long as possible.”

By 2014, 97% of companies planned to hire unpaid interns — a trend rising quicker than any other in recent work history. Prior to the 1990’s, these formal internships were a rarity in the workforce, and were created specifically for specialized fields.

So how can we fix it?

First, we can acknowledge facts over feelings. Millennials aren’t working less, or working less hard. The stagnancy of wages is not to blame on the millennials, and assuming so is only damaging your work culture.

The evolution of the technological landscape has shifted all elements of the workplace in the last two decades. The instability of the economy, the extreme rise in college tuition, and explosion of interconnectivity between people have all played their hand in changing not only our work culture, but our American culture.

These challenges, coupled with a divisive political climate, have pitted many Americans in similar economic situations against each other.

Now, time for an opinion:

It’s easy to blame others when faced with new challenges & new landscapes.
It’s much harder to adapt & grow with them.

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Originally published at www.ryanbahan.com.