July 2014
Issue Map
TD Magazine

Generation Discrimination

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Generational stereotypes are rarely supported by enough data.

Millennial employees have been hit with numerous stereotypes, many of them negative. Among the most common labels: lazy, entitled, and disloyal. Imagine if we talked about ethnic groups this way.

Businesses must look more closely to truly understand Millennials and their impact on the workforce. For example, consider the claim that they are "less loyal" than other generations in the workplace. This stereotype is based on one piece of surface-level data: average tenure, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is 3.2 years.

But when we consider a fuller set of data, a different picture emerges:

  • According to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, 14.5 percent of Millennials are unemployed today, which is twice the overall unemployment rate.
  • According to the same report, 44 percent of recent college graduates are underemployed, meaning that they are holding jobs that do not require a college degree.
  • The reduction in benefits at most organizations has been drastic.
  • Millennials have, like other generations, experienced seasonal layoffs and the continued effects of the economic downturn.

These data suggest that Millennial employees' shorter-than-average tenure is a result of all these factors. The implications of using limited data to uphold stereotypes about a large swath of the workforce are significant:

  • Operating behind stereotypes, business leaders could make misguided long-term business decisions.
  • Generational stereotypes create an "us versus them" mentality in organizations, which gets in the way of effective collaboration.
  • Stereotypes enable age discrimination.

It's time to start a new discussion—one that is based on the full set of facts—so that we can understand the true impact the Millennial generation has on the workforce.

About the Author

Crystal Kadakia is a two-time TEDx speaker, organizational consultant, and best-selling author, known for transforming the toughest workplace changes into exciting possibilities for our digital world. As a consultant, she brings organizations into the digital age, reimagining people strategies with clients in areas such as career development, learning culture, inclusion, leadership development, and employee engagement. Past clients include General Mills, Southern Company, Monster.com, Sierra Club, and other organizations.

She is the co-creator of the Learning Cluster Design model and the co-author of the related book, Designing for Modern Learning: Beyond ADDIE and SAM (ATD Press, 2020). This model empowers the revolution of the training industry for our Digital Age by showing L&D how to design a set of multiple learning assets, available across the flow of work, to deliver a performance goal on the job.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.