One of the most prevalent stereotypes about more recent workplace generations is that they believe they have a sense of entitlement. Could this be true, or is it just a meaningless stereotype? Many argue that millennials and generation Z (Gen 9/11) are products of the participation trophy era. A societal trend which started in the mid to late 1980’s and grew in popularity during the 1990’s and beyond.
Examining this more closely let’s consider values for entitlement across all five workplace generations:
Traditionals (Born 1930-1945) – Generally believe that entitlement comes from seniority. The longer you’ve been in the workplace, job role, or employee classification, the more entitled you become. This is where they see their true value and expertise, in longevity.
Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964) – Experience matters to baby boomers and when it comes to entitlement they want to side with experience. Many boomers believe knowledge is important but experience is king. Arguably, it may be what they have the most of.
Gen X (Born 1965-1976) – Somewhat stuck in the middle, the generation X population will likely link entitlement to merit. While they don’t possess the most workplace experience and at the same time are not the most recently educated, they tend to occupy the middle and we can label this as merit. Through merit, they are entitled.
Millennials (Born 1977-1994) – Recognizing that they may lack some of the experience of the more seasoned workforce, millennials will likely view entitlement values as being measured by their contribution. If they can contribute and make a difference they should be entitled to as much as any earlier generation.
Gen 9/11 or Gen Z (Born after 1994) – One important quality this most recent generation will bring to the table is knowledge. Keep in mind that earlier generations do not view knowledge and experience as the same, and generation Z will view their contribution as coming from knowledge (likely technology). Solve a problem with technology (saving both time and money) and you are entitled.
What values are driving your sense of entitlement? Societal values are constantly shifting and this is in part what forms different generational frameworks. Could it be that entitlement really depends on what generation is making an observation on another different generation? Do you feel entitled?
Reading this post has earned you a participation trophy.
No, not really.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.