Last week, this paper ran a story based on research which found Generation Y (born between the early 80s and the late 2000s) is more like Generation Whiny in the workplace.
The research, by Workfront, found bosses perceived so-called millennials as more prone to a moan than Generation X, and bigger babies than the Baby Boomers. More or less immediately, millennials did what they do best: they took to social media to decry the injustice of such a characterisation.
“We’re not moaners but we are sick of your obtuse point of view regarding our lived experience,” complained one. “Young people today are questioning society and fighting oppression more than ever before,” bellyached another.
Fighting oppression? The truth is, in a huge range of ways, young people have never had it so good. Previous generations faced the uncertainties and fears of war, rationing, the threat of nuclear obliteration and the Troubles.
Today, despite the headlines, the world has never been more peaceful and it’s certainly never been more prosperous. Millennials are better fed, healthier, more mobile and more highly educated than any of their predecessors. They have better access to technology, and are able to be more discerning consumers, because they have a wider choice.
Yet employers report they are more demanding than any other generation, insisting on extra time off, a more rounded work experience, improved work/life balance, faster promotion and higher salaries.
Larger firms are more able to respond to such pressures, and the big accountancy practices, for example, are all going out of their way to attract and retain the millennial workforce. Other employers see this group as having unrealistic expectations.
The truth is that with higher rents, a higher cost of living, a more expensive education and having come of age during the financial crash and recession, millennials are set to be the first in many generations to be less well-off than their parents. Property is becoming increasingly out of reach, wage growth is low and the idea of retiring at 65 is inconceivable.
They may have the iPhone but plenty still feel hard done by. Maybe we should forgive millennials their moaning. High expectations needn’t always be pandered to, but they should be understood.