Recently, I have written several pieces (Corporate Greed has Pushed Experienced People Unceremoniously Out the Door–Here’s What You Need to Do Now, “Why won’t a company hire me if I offer more experience than they require?” and “Why won’t a firm meet with me if I earn more money, but will take less for the job?”, How to fight back against ageism, when you are over 40 years old, out of work, or looking for a new job, etc…) regarding the pernicious ramifications suffered by experienced (“older”) workers due to age discrimination. Some of my colleagues, who are little younger than myself, have been giving me dirty looks and dagger eyes, as they feel that millennials are also discriminated in the job market and workforce, but nobody seems to care or talk about it.
Unfortunately, it is almost socially acceptable to allow a type of discriminatory mindset and practices against certain groups to permeate throughout the workplace, despite regulations- such as the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Act – and general common decency. It is interesting; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only protects employees who are above the age of 40. My millennial coworkers may be onto something. Discriminating against millennials is a reverse ageism and a new and growing form of discrimination in the workplace.
People view and openly discuss millennials as job hoppers, lazy, addicted to technology, are not motivated, and lack social skills. You would not cast those aspirations against any other class of persons. If you did, you’d be sent to human resources and either severely reprimanded or terminated.
The same people who criticize don’t take a moment to look at the severe challenges this age-group confronts. These employees are burdened with overwhelming college debt – sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have fewer job opportunities after college, since the competition is ferocious, as most people go to and graduate from college today. Maybe they “job-hop” in an attempt to level up their lower compensation. This age group must contend with sky-high housing prices, which along with their large student loan debt, may not render them financially capable of pursuing the American dream of home ownerships, as prior generations were able to do. They are also dealing with the issues that they did not cause, but were created by another generation.
These 18 to 34 –year-old workers are victims of stereotypes by employers just because they were born at a certain time period and classified as the “millennial age.” These unfair and unwarranted stereotypes lead employers to avoid hiring a younger worker. Another knock on the “millennial age” employees is that they are entitled, hard to train, and uncommitted to their current employment. With this prevailing attitude, they may not be aggressively sought out for jobs by hiring managers. These managers, with a preconceived notion of this generation, will look at everything they do through this lens. If this group of employees give the appearance of acting entitled, or fit the other stereotypes, the manager will then interpret their behavior as fitting the stereotype, and it will reinforce their confirmation bias. This thought process will continue and it will be hard for the individual and group to overcome these labels. With respect to training, millennials, similar to past generations, face hurdles and learning curves to perform their jobs. It is not unique for this particular generation to ask questions, be skeptical, and question why things need to done a certain way just because it has always been done this way.
Regarding the stigma of “job hopping,” in addition to trying to earn more money, maybe we should look at the antiquated standards employees use in staying with a job. Perhaps, it is smarter to cut your losses early if you quickly learn that a job is not right for you. Why should an employee be loyal to a large global corporation when they are constantly downsizing people or shifting jobs to other states or countries? It is a two-way street. If corporations don’t show any loyalty to their people, why should the millennials, or any other age group, accept their indifference?
Although the younger workers may be productive and less costly, they are, at times, the employees who are fired first. This is due, perhaps, because companies try to avoid age discrimination that specifically protects older workers in keeping their employment, or due to the “first in, last out” policy for their employees.
Discrimination is a serious problem and it should not be tolerated or accepted anywhere. Companies should not presume that a certain generation is unqualified for the job just because they are young. There are certainly bright, capable, millennials that could successfully do a job that a person twice their age can do. On the other end of the spectrum, age discrimination is adversely affecting senior employees too.
People should not be unceremoniously pushed out of their jobs because they are deemed past their prime and not up for the challenge anymore. Young smart, capable, adults should be able to get a job if they are qualified for that job. Corporations should judge employees based upon their intelligence, skills, and work ethic, and not be discriminated against solely on their youth.