Old folks love to blame Millennials and Generation Z for the downfall of society. But if the geezers want to gripe about a lack of loyalty in the workforce, they need to look in the mirror. Here is the story.
Every generation, it seems, has a beef with the whippersnappers that come up after them. The kids are disrespectful, can’t hold a job, and generally spell the doom of society.
As proof of all this, Baby Boomers and even Gen Xers often point to the tendency of Millennials and Generation Z workers to job-hop like bunnies in spring.
Back in their day, the Boomers say, a man would find himself a good job, settle in for a few decades while he raised a family, then retire and do a little fishing before he died.
Today’s kids, though, don’t have that sort of loyalty, the old-timers say. All they want is easy work, big pay, and lots of time off.
But a recent study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics turns the idea that young workers are nothing but soulless job-hoppers on its head.
According to that white paper, older Millennials who were born between 1980 and 1984 had held about seven different jobs by age 28 on average.
And fast-forwarding a few years, Millennials overall had held nearly nine jobs each by the time they were 34 years old.
That may sound like just the sort of evidence the old-timers need to support their claims that the younger generations are ruining everything. But it’s only part of the story.
The Myth Shattered
The rest of the story is that the data shows Baby Boomers themselves had held eight jobs by age 28.
And, by age 34, that number climbed to nearly ten different positions for each Boomer.
In case you didn’t do the math in your head, that means Boomers held an average of one more job in their careers than Millennials at a similar age.
So the evidence is pretty clear that the idea of an “organization man” who settles in at one company for his whole career has been a myth for quite a while.
The Button-Down World
Boomers may have grown up with parents who built stable careers in the aftermath of the turmoil of World War II. But the idea didn’t really stick with the Boomers themselves.
And that’s not really surprising, says sociologist Arne Kalleberg of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After all, it was the Boomers who spawned the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They were the original “rail against the establishment” generation.
And nothing screamed “establishment” back in those days more than the button-down world of corporate work.
Boomers Need to Acknowledge Reality
So, while many Boomers eventually had to face the reality that free love and mud-slung music festivals didn’t pay the bills, they didn’t have to like it.
Off they trudged to corporate jobs of their own, but they were also quick to move on if they thought there were greener pastures somewhere else.
Now, just when Boomers finally get to be stodgy old grumps, the numbers have caught up with them once again.
It’s not the Millennials that killed the organization, man. It’s the Boomers themselves.
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