Today's Millennial Problem
By: Danika Tallman
Many different people have many different views on millennials. “What is a millennial?” you might ask. Well, a millennial is defined as a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. If you have heard at all about this generation, you have heard about “The Millennial Problem”. The people who are talking about this the most would usually be the “baby boomer” generation (individuals born between 1946 and 1964) and the “Gen X” generation (individuals born between 1961 and 1981). The problem is that everyone views the millennials as a lazy , selfish, entitled generation. Just because they get so much bad press doesn’t mean you should just write them off. Here are some reasons that you should take a second look at this generally misconstrued generation of humans.
Based on a recent study done by Pew Research Center in April 2018, “More than one-in-three American labor force participants (35%) are Millennials, making them the largest generation in the U.S. labor force”. They make up the majority of the workforce today. Managers and bosses are struggling to control this specific group of employees. This could be considered a problem. Also, this, according to motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek, reflects our parents failed strategies to raise said group of individuals. He speaks about trophies being given for last place which affects the reality that last place is not something to be rewarded. It teaches children that anything can be won just by showing up. Not only is that not how the world works, but this also damages the perception of what they should actually be getting for their effort. It can even cause embarrassment or shame when they get something for nothing and realize they don’t deserve it. For example, if you don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid. If the “last place trophy” philosophy is applied here, you could miss all the work you want and still bring home your paycheck. It will be a very nasty reality check to those who believe too deeply in this thought process, as everyone knows, would not be accepted in a professional atmosphere anywhere.
According to a study from Bentley University, “67 percent of their respondents said they wanted to start their own business, while 13 percent said they hope to climb the ladders to become CEO or president”. This is in part to millennials being so tech savvy. It is so easy now to start your own company or brand due to things like Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter. It’s not that this generation doesn’t want to work but this generation doesn’t want to work for other people. They want to work for themselves and be in control of their own schedule, income and have a say in the important parts of a company. Some might say that the technologic advances are a hindrance to development but in fact, may be a great business tool when used in the right context. This is also a great way to connect with people, network and expand your business.
To be fair, this generation has been saturated with technology since they were very young. They were growing up the same time that the internet was and that made them best friends for life. While this does have to do with the fact that they have lower self-esteem, this is also something that Sanuk believes is through no fault of their own. He points to technology as the culprit and says that growing up in a world drowning in social media may lead many young people to look constantly for praise and validation through social networking. According to Rachel Hosie on the ‘Independent’ website, “How many likes and followers you have is the new social currency, and all we care about is keeping up appearances online.” This obviously does not apply to all millennials. Even with all that against them, the Millennials may be one of the best generations to come a long in a great while. Despite this generation “coming of age” during a particularly bad economic climate, Beth Kobliner, who has written Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in your Twenties and Thirties, states “The Millennial generation is amazing – they’re carrying more student loan debt than any generation in history but have less credit card debt that Gen-Xers or baby boomers.” One thing to be said about the millennial generation is that they learn from past generations mistakes and this shows immense maturity on their part. According to the same article, millennials open a 401(k) at 22 years of age as opposed to 28 for Gen-Xers and 35 for the baby boomers. Kobliner also defends the millennials from accusations of putting off adulthood and finds them extremely unfair. Kobliner says “they’re not putting off adulthood – they’re making wise financial choices”. This is in regard to a “record one-third of millennials” living in dorms or with their parents to save up to buy a house. Another thing that the millennials have going for them is the fact that they care about social change. An article by Fred Dews on Brookings Now talks about some important fact about the millennial generation, “89% expressed a stronger likelihood that they would buy from companies that supported solutions to specific social issues” and “63% of Millennials want their employer to contribute to social or ethical causes they felt were important. About half of older Gen Xers and Boomers felt the same.” That says a lot about them as a generation. They care about and are actively trying to change what happens to the world and the people in it. They are trying to make something better happen. It’s going to be slow going but it is something that has been coming for a long time. If they can make the world better just by waiting to buy a house or not having kids as early as past generations then so be it. Like the old saying goes, I would rather stand for something than fall for anything.