Do We Now Have a Generation of Entitlement?

The stereotype of feeling more entitled than one deserves has sometimes been assigned to the Millennial Generation (Gen Y). Who are the Millennials you ask? One definition pegs them as being born between 1981 and 1996 — 23-38 years old. In other words, our young professionals today.

I actually don’t think it’s fair to say that Millennials, as a group, are spoiled or have a sense of entitlement. I think if you want to assign that negative characteristic to a group of adults I would suggest you look at a much larger spectrum — perhaps all the way between the ages of 18 and 98. People who have an exaggerated sense of entitlement can be found just about everywhere.

However, a characteristic that 23-38 year olds DO actually show more of as a group is mobility — in particular, changing jobs and careers. LinkedIn did a survey in 2016 and found that Millennials, by far, changed careers more often than any other generation within the first 5 years of graduation from college or university — and most commonly in areas like professional services, government, non-profit, education, media and entertainment.

Does this make Millennials have a sense of over-entitlement?

No. What researchers ARE finding is that Millennials are less patient in staying in a particular job that doesn’t fit their career or life values. They are prepared to move jobs to see if the next one does the trick. I suppose it could be good for both the employee and employer — happier and more content employees make for a better work environment. The challenge of course for the employer is the rate of worker turn-over. That’s particularly challenging in public education, particularly on the business side of our industry as it is quite complex:

  • Multiple employee groups — some of them unionized with collective agreements to manage;
  • Changing curriculum that needs regular implementation and in-servicing;
  • An ever-changing client base (students and parents) that requires support and guidance;
  • Two levels of elected officials (local School Boards and the Provincial Government);
  • Community and municipal inter-relationships that need tending and maintenance;
  • Multiple budgets that have regular and rigorous reporting requirements;
  • And the list goes on and on …

… all within a climate of tight economics and constantly evolving rules and regulations.

So, having employee stability is critical to a school district’s organizational consistency, predictability and improvement. As an employer wanting to have a stable workforce in place, a particular goal of mine is to focus on finding ways to make our work environment stimulating, rewarding, and fun. I’m constantly looking for ways to make the employment experience better for our school district team. Building opportunities for professional growth, personal wellness and collaboration for our employees are important objectives for me as Superintendent. But, I’m also aware that I can’t always meet everyone’s personal expectations.

Let’s get back to Dr. Laura for a minute …

I actually agree with her statement. I think we rarely get what we feel we are entitled to in life:

  • That job promotion that we’ve been wanting;
  • Consistently good health;
  • Stress free work and the perfect terms of employment;
  • Lower taxes but better social services.

So, where am I going with this? What am I trying to say to you?

At the end of the day, I believe that instead of focusing on what we don’t have, it is much more productive and satisfying to be grateful for what we DO have in our lives. Being grateful for more, focusing on our OWN improvement and feeling less ‘entitled’ to a bunch of stuff, will make us immeasurably happier and healthier.

If we genuinely believe that it is the outside world’s responsibility to make us better — make us happier — then we’re going to be disappointed.

Focus on our own internal change and where we need to improve. That’s where you’ll see the greatest positive results.

At the end of the day there is only one person who can make things better for yourself — that would be YOU.

When you focus your change efforts on improving yourself instead of making demands of others the world really does seem to be a better place.

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