In most definitions, millennials are said to be born from 1981-1996, but the term “millennial” often refers to, more loosely, youths that cannot get along with older people. Labels help categorise but are also hasty generalisations that make it easier to identify a group of people. Marketers do it all the time, using their age-specific targetisation to sell certain products. But Millennials are a lot more than a target group, they are the products of modernisation on a global scale, so why do they get so much flak? And do they really deserve being labelled this way?
Looking at things logically, it is about generational divide, cultural shifts and societal expectations. We cannot possibly expect people to behave the same way as people 20 years ago, especially with the widespread use of technology and the exposure to different ideas, lifestyles and means of making money. Depending on the social climate of the time, there will be different traits manifested. It simply is what it is. But that may not necessarily a bad thing. So, in defence of the millennial, here are justifications for two of the biggest criticisms that come attached to this title:
- 1. Ideas of respect and hierarchy
Being born and raised in an Asian society, it’s expected that we respect people that have seniority. Millennials may not necessarily subscribe to that. Rather, they believe that respect is a two-way street and everyone deserves to be respected regardless of their age, rank, position, race, gender and etcetera.
In simple terms, millennials are not disrespectful, they’re simply challenging the status quo. Millennials are not working for money alone, they want to work for a company that shares the same values as them, and being in a place that belittles them because of their age is not somewhere they want to be.
- 2. Sense of entitlement
Many people have criticised millennials for being impatient and being overly entitled, expecting to be treated like royalty at an entry-level job and leaving when things do not meet their expectations. Yes, we live in a world of instant gratification, and things do not happen overnight, but where should we invest our energy and hard work in? The fact is, the ease of connection and access to better technology has made people work smarter, this does not make things “easier”, but it does change our expectations on how things are run. Not to mention the plethora of millennial run startups that are extremely attractive because of the opportunities and amazing work culture they offer. They are more than willing to contribute when their workplace values them.
Millennials have more choice because if it’s anything they’ve learnt in the recent decade, is that there is more to life than just work. They reject the idea of becoming a slave to the dollar and look for something more, they’re savvier and have tendencies to pursue things that make them happy.
Labels can help one understand, but they are also limiting. Instead of fixating on what is unfavourable, recognise that adaptability, compromise and negotiation skills apply to everyone, regardless of age. The ability to work well and communicate are things that can be learned and by treating everyone with compassion, looking past stereotypes and fostering a culture of collaboration, we can radically change the way we think and truly make the world a better place. So think of ways to work with what already is there, after all, it really is about perspective.
For more ideas on this topic, you can listen to our podcast, Now Talk with THG here