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Business leader hits back at ‘Millennial bashing’

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
05 March 2019 2 minute readShare
Kara Smith, General Manager, Talent International Auckland

A Millennial business leader has hit back at controversial comments made recently by Muffin Break’s general manager, stating that “Millennial bashers” will find it increasingly difficult to continue operating as this generation takes up an increasing portion of the workforce.

The “Muffingate” controversy erupted after Muffin Break’s Natalie Brennan was quoted by News Corp Australia as stating that Millennials have an “inflated” sense of entitlement, no longer seek out unpaid work and “want to be rewarded for doing their job constantly”.

One comment in the ensuing media frenzy likened the latter to senior executives seeking bonuses just for doing their jobs.

Ms Brennan subsequently apologised for the comments, which she labelled as a “misunderstanding”.

But in a blog for her company’s website titled Meaning, not muffins: How to motivate Millennials, IT&T recruitment firm Talent International’s Auckland general manager, Kara Smith (pictured) — herself a Millennial — hit back at the comments, suggesting that some older managers are actually to blame for creating a culture of “Millennial bashing” and for putting up barriers based on generalisations about age and ability.

“[Ms Brennan] labelled them ‘entitled’ and said they don’t have the same work ethic as other generations, because they are not willing to do unpaid work to advance their careers. You mean people want to be compensated for their work?! Madness!” Ms Smith wrote.

“As the leader of a group of highly motivated, hard-working Millennials, this misconception really bothers me.”

Suggesting the term “Millennial” covers those born in the 1980s and 1990s, Ms Smith said that “by 2025, Millennials will most likely make up 75 per cent of the workforce. So if you’re a manager, it’s time to embrace this highly skilled, aware and effective generation”.

“They felt the door was often closed on them before they had a chance to prove themselves.”

Millennial bashing a common occurrence

Ms Smith said that she spoke with members of her team from the same generation, and found that hostility towards this generation is a fairly common occurrence in the workplace.

“With all this Millennial bashing going around, it might feel easy to jump on the bandwagon,” she said.

“Every single one of the Millennials I spoke to about this topic said they have experienced managers who have made negative assumptions about them because they are Millennials: ‘sensitive, not hardworking, entitled and opinionated’ were at the top of a long list of criticism they have received.

“They felt the door was often closed on them before they had a chance to prove themselves.”

Ms Smith added: “If you are a manager who buys into this, you might be in a bit of trouble in the years to come, because these Millennials are clever, results-oriented and very good at their jobs, they are here to stay/take over. They have the numbers and they are already having a strong influence on how businesses operate.”

How to work with Millennials?

Rather than criticise Millennials, Ms Smith suggested that business leaders and managers work with them, to harness their existing skills and deliver the best outcomes for them and for the business.

She suggested that employers aim for a particular focus on:

  • Creating a strong teamwork culture.
  • Focusing on work-life balance and flexibility.
  • Making work meaningful: this could be through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, and measuring performance (both theirs and that of the business) on metrics other than just financial.
  • Giving lots of feedback: both positive and constructive criticism.
  • Looking beyond money: career development, learning, experience and progression are just as, if not more than, important as money.
Business leader hits back at ‘Millennial bashing’
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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