The Generation Gap Doesn’t Exist

Articles about how millennials are changing (or per your perspective, ruining,) the business world are everywhere. I even wrote one myself.

And I stand by everything I wrote in that blog. You do have to change some things about your business to recruit millennials.

But one of those things isn’t viewing millennials as alien beings who beamed down one day to force you to change your business philosophy. Millennials are just people like everyone else. And maybe the reason they want to change your business isn’t because they’re entitled brats: Maybe it’s because it needs to change.

Do millennials even exist?

Adam Conover, host of TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything, is currently making the lecture circuit with a speech where he argues that generations don’t really exist. He says generations are stereotypical, artificial constructs created by corporations to sell everything from deodorant to reverse mortgages.

I agree with Adam. The concept of generations is only useful for marketing demographics; it’s reductive at its core.

Some deem millennials lazy. Wasn’t the same charge hurled at Gen Xers and the hippies before that? Some say they are over-reliant on technology. Weren’t we having this same conversation about the growing ubiquity of PCs and the young internet 20-30 years ago?

Young people always strike the older generation as whiny and needy. Millennials aren’t unique in that regard; they’re just the latest in a long line of generational scapegoats.

It’s not me, it’s me

Probably the thing we hear most about millennials is that they’re proud of their unique individuality. But guess what? So is everyone from every generation, and so is every employee at your firm, regardless of age.

Humans are an individualistic species. We have our own wants and needs that, while they often intersect with those of others, are still uniquely our own.
Your employees are no different. You don’t need to design flexible benefits packages and remote working options to bribe millennials to come to your firm. You need to do it because it’s what people want, period, and with today’s technology, there’s no longer an excuse to keep it from them.

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One big, happy generation

Lori Sylvia’s blog “Generation Why: The Attitudinal Shift Uniting Today’s Workforce” argues that, while there is a generational shift going on in the workplace, that shift has nothing to do with age. All of today’s workers are part of what she calls “Generation Why,” defined as follows:

Generation Why – everyone currently in the workforce, describing the attitudinal shift that each person has his/her unique reasons for working, and that people choose an employer based on the company’s answer to “why” someone should choose to work there.

And maybe that’s the key to all of this: not the “how” but the “why.” Why would someone, anyone, of any age, want to work at your firm?

Find the right answer to that question, and you can stop googling “how to recruit millennials.” With the power of why, you’ll be able to recruit anyone.

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  • Date Posted

    February 7, 2018
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