Millennial MYTHBUSTERS: ‘You Have No Work Ethic’


It’s me again, your favorite millennial!… The focus of this blog is one of the common (and unfair) myths that plague us as millennials. I started out by giving you some perspective on WHY we are who we are and the differences in the world we grew up in.

Now, it’s time to jump into the good stuff, starting with one of my all-time favorite myths:

“MILLENNIALS HAVE NO WORK ETHIC”

 WHAT

This one REALLY kills me.  Mostly because I am offended by it and take it incredibly personal. As an FYI, this young millennial woman was a triple major in college, involved in Dance Team and Student Government, not to mention active with other clubs on and off campus. Now that I am in the working world, I get to work each day no later than 7:30 am (despite not having to) and work late most days. Not to mention, in my down time I am constantly reading or listening to podcasts, tenaciously searching for ways to better myself in any way possible.  And it’s not just me! … All my friends grinded through college and are now pursuing big career goals and making sacrifices to achieve them. But, hey, I get it. My just telling you this means nothing. I need to provide facts to back it up.

For all those haters and doubters out there, I scoured the internet and found articles, scientific studies, and fact-based statistics validating that millennials DO work hard.

Example:  79% of Millennials hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree, and 48% of Millennials want their bosses to view them as work martyrs, opposed to 39% of Gen Xers and 32% of Baby Boomers.

During my search, I also stumbled upon articles written by (clearly) non-millennials, stating that those same studies, performed by MAJOR UNIVERSITIES, were “subjective”.  Well, let me drop some knowledge for a second – the definition of “hard work” is also subjective!

So, with that in mind, I asked myself,-“what is the exact definition of hard work?” OR “what are these non-millennials using as their benchmark for what hard work actually is?” So, of course, I googled it. (Shocker, I know!)

In the points both supporting and not supporting millennials’ work ethic, most everyone used the same indicator: number of hours worked

The following were also indicative:

  • The percentage someone worked during college/high school
  • How many worked overtime on the weekends
  • How many hours they were expected to work during the week
  • And how we (millennials) are not in line with the traditional workplace atmosphere (aka don’t want to work in an office)

In summary, this all comes down to the amount of TIME people spent working, and not the QUALITY of work or RESULT. Seems rather shortsighted to me, don’t you think?

Now,-let’s think about this: millennials grew up in a time of rapid technological change, constantly learning new, faster and better ways to do what they did yesterday. Combine that with us being the most educated generation to date, and you have yourself a really KICK-ASS group of people who can increase productivity and create new efficiencies in the workplace.   So does the traditional method for “measuring” hard work using time as the sole indicator hold much weight for millennials? Don’t think so. And therein lies the confusion.

Parkinson’s Law states that, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.  If it takes a millennial 4 hours to complete a task that it takes a “non-millennial” 8 hours, how is that a bad thing? And how does that somehow make us “lazy” or not “hard workers”? Accomplishing more work in less time frees us up to do other things, such as: starting a charity, solving problems in the world, spending time with loved ones, pursuing a side hustle…and wait for it…more WORK! Now THAT to me sounds like not only working harder, but also working smarter!

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