Move Over Millennials – Brace Yourself for EVERYONE’S Opinion on Gen Z

Corey Burns Corey Burns, Culture, Diversity, Generations, Hiring Bias

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

Let’s be clear, this is not my quote! You’ll be surprised to know that this was written by Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher, around 350 BCE.

This is a perfect example of the everlasting topic of generational differences – and a reminder that they’ve always inspired strong opinions. Fortunately (and unfortunately), Millennials are catching a break and the tide is turning to the next generation, Gen-Z. Too often we hear or read bold statements with little to no data backing up their claims, just as Aristotle did back in 350 BC.

As a Millennial, I selfishly look forward to the reduction in Millennial-related comments, articles, and over-generalizations regarding my generation. Unfortunately, however the attention is being redirected to another group.

This article isn’t about defending or debunking Gen-Y or Gen-Z stereotypes; there are many other articles and studies that have already accomplished that. If you’re interested in that, take a look at this article from Richie Norton.

Instead, I’d rather influence readers to be conscious of generational stereotypes and to divert their energy to more pressing matters. A healthy workplace and effective management are not built on broad generalizations about each generation. Ultimately, we need to form our own educated opinion of an individual or generation through our own experiences, rather than relying solely on what we read or hear.

Here are a few simple takeaways:

  1. Don’t be the “Kids these days” person

 If you want to sound ignorant or outdated, saying “Kids these days” will definitely do the trick. Additionally, you very well could offend someone. There’s just no upside to this kind of language or mindset. “Kids these days” are as diverse and multi-faceted as they’ve ever been, so why break them down into a sound bite?

  1. Choose wisely what you believe and read

With a plethora of information regarding generational differences, be extremely selective about what you choose to consume and how you use that information. Everyone has an opinion and they’re not always right. Look for the numbers and data being referenced to prove their point. If there isn’t objective information present, you should be very skeptical. Also, just because there is correlation between an opinion and a specific subject, it doesn’t mean it’s the cause. Correlation does not equal causation.

  1. Generational discrimination

 This is a real problem that has impacted hiring processes and I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. I can’t even begin to count how many times I have heard people openly expressing their gripes about specific generations and how they want to avoid hiring those from a specific generation.  There have been times I have to remind colleagues that I’m a Millennial… queue awkward silence.

  1. Stop identifying individuals by their generation

This is really simple. People typically don’t like it when you refer to them by their race, sexual orientation, religion, etc. So why refer to someone by their generation? It doesn’t make sense, so don’t do it.

I know this isn’t exactly mind-blowing information, but it’s meant to build awareness. The next time you are tempted to click on the next “Generation”-related article, proceed with caution and ask yourself if there will be any value added from reading it. In the end, be aware of what exactly is influencing your views and productively add to the conversation rather than hopping on the hamster wheel of generational finger-pointing.