Like 3 million of you I recently watched the video “Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace”. In the video Simon Sinek, a best-selling author and renowned speaker casually sits on a sofa to purportedly talk about working with young people- or “Millennials”- as many call them.
I have written about this topic more than once and it’s a personal passion. I typically like to begin my soapbox rants by reminding you, good reader, that there is actually no universally agreed upon definition of Millennial.
Here are some of the definitions we have found:
According to Iconoclast, a consumer research firm, the first Millennials were born in 1978.
Newsweek magazine reported that the Millennial generation was born between 1977 and 1994.
In separate articles, the New York Times pegged the Millennials at 1976-1990 and 1978-1998.
A Time magazine article placed the Millennials at 1980-2000.
Let’s not get pedantic. To simplify things let’s agree that this “generation” was born between 1982 and 2004. Think about that. This so-called generation spans about 30 years and includes both a 32 year old hipster and a 12 year old!
And as Simon reminds us, they’re lazy, entitled, narcissistic job-hoppers (those pesky 12 year old job hoppers…)
I think we can all agree that this generation is the worst, right?
Except they aren’t.
Simon’s talk is spot on. We are phone and social-media addicted lab rats who crave immediate gratification and try to make our lives look more important and impressive than they actually are.
But these traits aren’t limited to so-called Millennials!
We all knowingly laughed when we watched his descriptions of checking your phone in a restaurant bathroom, not because we think that is probably what young people do, but because WE do it!
Yes “We”. We as in the “other generations in the workplace” that are just as guilty of having our cell phones on the table during a meeting (we’re older so we are very busy and important). It’s not about the Millennial generation, it’s a condition of the time we live in. And he is right- it’s degrading our connections and relationships.
I am so passionate about dispelling the myths about Millennials in the workplace that last summer, our team partnered with Stone-Olafson to research this topic.
I’ll give you the punchline: Millennials are just like the rest of us.
ALL of us want work to be more flexible, to have more fun and to feel like there is meaning in our work. In fact, if you really want to assure you have low engagement, make your workplace conservative and inflexible.
For obvious reasons we don’t segment our work colleagues based on colour, religion, or gender. Why is it still ok to segment based on the year your peer was born? It’s time to put the Millennial Myth to bed and focus on creating great workplaces that inspire everybody.