Criticizing millennials seems to have become a popular pastime for many. “Millennials,” if you have not heard yet, is a term generally applied to the generation born roughly between 1980 and 2000, give or take a few years depending on who you ask. They are also sometimes referred to as “Generation Y.”
The Twitter hashtag #HowToConfuseAMillennial has been trending recently, and during the 2016 election—especially during the primaries—memes criticizing millennials abounded on social media. Stereotypes of millennials are all over the place: lazy, entitled, socialist, disrespectful, promiscuous, and the list goes on. It has become popular to label millennials with epithets like “snowflake” because of perceived oversensitivity. We wanted to share some facts that might help you get a broader perspective on this generation.
Millennials in the Military
Millennials (here defined as people aged 18-30) made up 60.9% of the US Armed Forces (Active Duty and Selective Reserve Members) in 2015.1 This should come as no surprise since millennials are currently at the typical age for military service. The reality is that in every generation, wars are primarily fought by the young. It is also important to note that, unlike in some previous conflicts, the Armed Forces are currently made up entirely of volunteers. The millennials in the military are there by choice.
Next time someone feels tempted to criticize the millennial generation, he or she should stop and remember that many millennials have died in the course of their military service and have left behind grieving parents, spouses, and children.
Millennials and Abortion
Abortion may be one of the most divisive political issues in the United States. The question of the legality of abortion touches on individual liberty, the definition of a person, and a myriad of healthcare and economic questions. A survey performed by the Barna Group on behalf of Students for Life found that “53% of millennials (aged 18 to 31) believe that abortion should never be legal or should only be legal in extreme circumstances (including rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother).”2
If this research is accurate, it seems that perhaps the millennial generation is leaning away from unrestricted abortion across the board. In addition to viewing abortion unfavorably, millennials also seem to be having less abortions. According to Rachel K. Jones and Jenna Jerman of the Guttmacher Institute, “In 2011, an estimated 1.1 million abortions were performed in the United States; the abortion rate was 16.9 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, representing a drop of 13% since 2008.”3 It is important to remember that these rates could be influenced by a variety of political and economic factors besides millennial preferences.
Millennials on the Job
Hand them a job application form
— Andrew (@1andrewfenton) September 4, 2016
Millennials, in general, have different values than earlier generations. Millennials are more interested in job fulfillment and significance than they are in small pay increases over time. They want to feel like their work matters, not just make more money. Millennials are at times perceived as lazy because they are often able to work faster. Due to their familiarity with technology, many millennials can actually accomplish the same tasks as their older coworkers in less time.4
When given clear deadlines and the right tools, millennials are actually very productive workers. Payscale.com has a fascinating infographic:
For more on this, check out this article over at Forbes.com by Sanjeev Agrawal, the founder and chief executive of Collegefeed and former global head of product marketing at Google. The iOpener Institute also produced this report if you want to know more. They concluded that:
This study, based on the analysis of thousands of responses, clearly demonstrates that simply throwing money at Generation Y will not be enough to retain them. Gen Y needs to find their job fulfilling, and to believe that the work they do is of economic and/or social significance. In fact, making sure Gen Y employees feel fulfilled and purposeful delivers a double bubble, in that they will also actively recommend their organization to friends as a good place to work – powerful word-of-mouth advertising for an organization in a socially networked world.5
Millennials, like every other generation, are not demonstrably worse than their forbearers. We are just different. As we look at different generations, we need to remember that each generation has a hand in shaping the next one, but we also all grow up in different worlds as things change. For example, Boomers got smartphones in late adulthood, millennials got them in their late teens and early adult years, and the generation behind us is getting smart devices before they are out of elementary school. The world changes and people change to live in it. There is usually no need to panic or be hateful. We are all in this together.
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- “2015 Demographics: Profile of the Miltary Community,” United States Department of Defence, accessed January 14, 2017, http://militaryonesource.mil, 9.
- “Views of Millennial on Abortion & the Brand of the Pro-Life Movement,” The Institute for Pro-Life Advancement, accessed January 14, 2017, 3-4.
- Rachel K. Jones and Jenna Jerman, “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011,” Perspectives ion Sexual and Reproductive Health 46, no. 1:1, accessed January 14, 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2014/02/abortion-incidence-and-service-availability-united-states-2011.
- Kaytie Zimmerman, “What To Do With A Millennial Employee That’s Bored At Work,” Forbes.com, accessed January 14, 2017.
- “What Motivates Millennials At Work,” The iOpener Institute for People and Performance, accessed January 15, 2017, https://iopenerinstitute.com.