Millenial: The Latest “Bad Word?”

The label attached to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is “Generation Y” or “Millenials.” In many ways, they are absolutely no different than any generation that came before them… Except that, according to well-respected, highly visible media outlets, such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, TIME and Bloomberg (to name just a few), Millennials are:
  • Entitled
  • Lazy
  • Needy
  • Unskilled
  • Narcissistic
  • Shallow
Ouch. The Millennial generation has faced criticism from popular media, citing their tendency to live at home, lackluster ambitions and obsession with documenting all aspects of their life on social media. For the sake of debate, let’s consider why Millenials may not be so bad, and, if you’re willing to give them a chance, maybe even pretty great.


1). Millenials are adaptable. Thanks to the Great Recession, technology and globalization, Millenials realize that the way society works, plays and lives has changed forever. And they're adapting. Millenials are comfortable outside their comfort zones, simply because they may not have one. While many Millenials are currently struggling, this can lead them to try new projects, career paths and hobbies until they find one that will allow to be successful and fulfilled. 2). Millenials are confident. Much has been said about the Millennial fascination with social media – even that it can cause personality disorders. But, for better or worse, Millenials grew up with social media. Besides flooding the internet with “selfies,” this phenomenon allowed Millennials to create “malleable social media identities that allow users to craft their ideal selves and cultivate mass followings.” Millenials deeply believe that someone, somewhere cares about their thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, leads them to face significant challenges with confidence.  Confidence enables Millenials to tackle challenging projects that their more timid counterparts may not—a valued quality in employees. 3). Millenials crave purpose. An oft-cited example of Millenials’ laziness comes from the Families and Work Institute. In 1992, the nonprofit Families and Work Institute reported that 80% of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility. 10 years later, only 60% did. However, Millenials place a higher value than previous generations on “intangibles,” such as working with a sense of purpose. In an age where work is increasingly 24/7 instead of 9 to 5, Millenials want to know that their work has meaning. Joel Stein, author of TIME’s controversial cover story about Millenials, cites the example of DreamWorks Animation. "Dan Satterthwaite, who runs the [DreamWorks Animation] studio's human-relations department and has been in the field for about 23 years, says Maslow's hierarchy of needs makes it clear that a company can't just provide money anymore but also has to deliver self-actualization." Millenials have gotten a bad rap, but before writing them off completely, consider this – companies are currently having to deal with similar struggles. Whether its new technology or maintaining relevance among a new generation of consumers, Millenials are well poised to address the realities of an evolving marketplace.

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