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Millennials: Lazy, entitled – or maybe just young | Today Money

15 May 2014—Jacquelyn James, co-director of research of the center was mentioned on by Allison Linn, Special to TODAY .


Jacquelyn James, director of research at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, said people of different generations do have unique experiences that will affect how their lives and careers go.

The Greatest Generation adopted lifelong frugal financial habits as a result of the Great Depression, for example, and the Baby Boomers’ experiences were affected by the sheer size of their generation.

Now, some millennials will no doubt feel the lifelong repercussions of coming of age in a very difficult economic period, in which jobs have been harder to find and layoffs a constant, looming worry.

But James said her research has shown that there may be more similarities than differences among the various generations of workers. All generations value honesty in their leaders, for example, and say family is a top priority.

“For something to be a generational characteristic, it needs to be something that carries with you through time,” she said. “Most of the traits and characteristics we’re talking about are about people entering the workforce, and those are life stage issues.”

James noted that most schools provide little preparation for entering the workforce, so young workers have to learn to adapt to a new culture that is very different from being a student.


A person’s early years at work also are often a time of self-discovery, she said, when people are still trying to figure out what type of job they want, how hard they want to work and how to navigate things like office politics and dealing with bosses. Some of the stereotypes associated with a certain generation may fade as they get past those hurdles.

“If you follow these people who are entering the workforce over time, I do not think that these characteristics would exist,” she said.

James noted that it’s easy for managers to type cast people – to say that younger people can’t take criticism or older people aren’t good at technology - without thinking about how those assumptions limit your employees, and your company’s chance of success.

“These stereotypes have consequences,” she said...

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