By: Connor Judson Garrett – June 7,2016
Millennials are charged as a generation with an entitled attitude. In personal relationships as well as for employers this is a point of hair-pulling frustration regarding Gen-Y.
In the workplace employers feel they’re making concessions left and right and all but bending over backwards to create a fun and pleasant work environment for millennials with no returns in loyalty or gratitude. If a job isn’t quite literally a dream job or their ideal scenario, my generation quits, resulting in the high turnover rate of young employees. From the perspective of the employer it’s hard to see entitlement as anything but negative; however, I’d like to make a case that this is not entirely bad. Despite the connotations of the word itself, entitlement has practical benefits in the real world.
Let’s consider the difference in the way upper-class and middle-class children are raised compared to lower-class children. There’s nothing genetically keeping people within a certain socioeconomic strata, yet over and over again we see poverty often lasts in a family for generations. This cycle of poverty can endure for many reasons, but there’s one critical difference in the way a well-off kid is raised from the child of the poor family – entitlement – feeling as though you have the right to customize and request for things to be the way you prefer them.
Malcolm Gladwell makes the distinction between entitlement and constraint, the latter of which is taught in lower-class families. In his book Outliers he uses the example of an upper-class kid who is taught to ask the doctor questions, thereby taking his health concerns into his own hands.
Essentially, one upbringing is teaching the child to be an active in their own education and the master of their world, whereas the other approach teaches kids to let things happen to them, to fear authority, and to be constrained by society. This particular kind of entitlement ties into the phenomenon of millennial entrepreneurship.
The same entitlement that drives employers crazy is also part of the reason for my generation’s inventiveness. Millennials believe it is their right to shape reality towards their preferences, and sometimes that results in innovation and greater efficiency as we’re presently seeing through the evolution of the workplace and the emergence of the superemployee.
To a certain extent this is an experiment still playing out, but so far no one can say the results haven’t been interesting.