It was late last year that Simon Sinek rose to internet fame for his view on entitled millennials. Sinek, a “leadership consultant”, was featured on an episode of Think Quest where he basically broke down the “problem” with millennials in the workplace. His conclusion? They’re “entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy”. And judging from the fifty thousand likes and multiple shares on the video, many agree.
To be fair, Simon Sinek does make it clear that the “entitled millennials” attitude isn’t particularly their fault. Rather, he says it’s a product of the way parents have raised them. It could even be because of the way their expectations are set for the workplace.
But in turn, we think the “entitled millennials” label is a little unfair. Here’s a closer look at Sinek’s argument and our counterpoints:
Working Harder Than Ever
Millennials grew up in a fast world. Nowadays, everything is pretty instantaneous. You can communicate with halfway someone across the world in seconds. TV streaming means you don’t have to wait for a new episode. You can publish something online without every talking to a printing press. Sinek argues that, since millennials can’t translate that kind of speed to the workplace, they are disillusioned, and therefore ineffective at work.
But the truth is a little further from that: millennials work harder and longer hours than ever before. According to the Boston Globe, 40% consider themselves “work martyrs” – people who work as if they’re “dedicated, indispensable, racked with guilt if they take time off”. 50% want to be seen that way, too.
— Nsight Factory (@nsightfactory) March 15, 2017
Employee engagement consultant Bob Kelleher also notes, “This is a driven generation”. Analysts are noticing a trend of “24/7 working” – being always “at work” due to our smartphones, as early as we rise ,and as late as we tuck into bed.
The way millennials work has profoundly been affected by the economy, too. Rising costs of education mean more students put off starting a family to work off their student debts. A harsher housing market means it’s tougher to live at a standard that was much easier for their parents.
There Are Bigger Problems Than Social Media Addiction
Social media addiction is definitely a real problem. Getting obsessed with “likes” should always be put under control, and could seriously be a barrier to proper communication. That’s certainly on millennials to solve themselves. But the premise of Sinek – and any other author who has made money out of criticizing millennials – often fails to address much bigger problems.
The rising costs mentioned above are one. It’s not just education and housing, either; there’s also healthcare and basic services and products like food. Meanwhile, unemployment in the US continues to fluctuate, because unpredictable advances in technology have killed some industries while boosting others in unpredictable ways. This doesn’t just affect Millennials; it affects everyone. The only reason millennials feel it more than Gen X, is because Gen Xers spent their years building their fortunes in less turbulent – and more affordable – times.
“Entitled millennials” aren’t the problem. It’s calling millennials entitled, when they work just as hard as anybody else, that’s problematic.
If everyone could create new employment opportunities by simply deleting their Twitter app, more people would have done it by now.