Is the Millennial Generation Lazy

“When I was your age I used to walk 10 miles barefoot, uphill, both ways in the snow”

Sound familiar? You may have heard this from your Dad, Grandfather or even Great Grandfather. It’s the age old argument generations prior to the current, make about how much harder they used to work and how lazy kids are these days.

To date, I’m not aware of anyone of the millennial generation aka Gen Y arguing in contrast that we are lazy. The reason you ask? It’s because most millennials don’t know and don’t care about any generation prior to our own and believe the world and everything good began at around 1980. The shouts that we are lazy, don’t want to work and just want to spend our parents hard earned cash have grown, particularly from Jason Calacanis, who broke the last straw in this video in which he points to Millennials laziness as to what frustrates him most about business. As a twenty something, it’s time to put this old timer back in his place.

The common argument we hear from Baby Boomers and Generation X is that millennials want to travel the world, live in big houses, drive nice cars and we want it all now. Given the fact we don’t remember a time without internet, is it really all that surprising that we demand instant gratification.

Besides instant gratification, the other argument is that we go to sleep late, wake up late and simply don’t like working. My mother often shares this sentiment when she wakes up at 5:45 am to go teach her kindergarten class on the other side of town and I am fast asleep. To answer the question you are getting to, yes, I do live with my mother when I’m in El Paso, TX. It’s not because I’m a freeloader, but because we enjoy each others company when I’m not spending time in my apt in NYC.

Going back to to waking up late, what prior generations don’t understand, including my mother is that I stayed up till 3am writing this post. The fact that many millennials can now work when and where we want is an increase in standard of living we get to enjoy that was non-existent just a few years ago.  This increase in standard of living is a byproduct of the hard work of people like Steve Jobs and other visionaries in his generation that have provided my generation with this luxury. So on behalf of all millennials let me formally thank your generation for working so hard to make these tremendous strides in technology.

Regarding loyalty to employers and vice a versa, this generation has seen way to many scandals and the self interests of a few affect honest and hard working people. We’ve seen everything from people being fired after over forty years of service to one company, retirement accounts that have been gambled away, and ponzi schemes that wipe out investors money. The best thing going for millennials which applies more so to us than any other generation prior is the realization that our destiny is in our own hands and that we won’t blame anyone else for our own successes or failures. There is nobody on earth we trust more than ourselves and if we want to build, create or make something happen we know it will only occur from the initiative we take on our own accord. Loyalty to employers and others, however takes on a different meaning, such as doing what we say we are going to do and being transparent about how we do business.

The fact that some choose to work to live as opposed to live to work isn’t generational, but rather cultural and the lifestyles people choose to live. It’s not that Millennials don’t like to work hard, it’s that we work smarter and achieve better results. David Landes perhaps sums this up best in the last few sentences in his book, “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations“.

“… Too many of us work to live and live to be happy. Nothing wrong with that; it just does not promote high productivity. You want high productivity? Then you should live to work and get happiness as a by-product.

Not easy. The people who live to work are a small and fortunate elite. But it is an elite open to newcomers, self-selected, the kind of people who accentuate the positive.”

So in summary, is our generation lazy or do we just expect a better more comfortable life for ourselves? More importantly how will our lifestyles and work ethic affect the generations to come? I’ll let Generation X and the Baby Boomers decide for themselves.

Oh and by the way I’ve got nothing but love for Calacanis. He shares lots of great information at This Week In and I just had to set the record straight about millennials.


Disclosure: Included in this article is an affiliate link to Audible. To learn more about affiliate marketing and my policy on affiliate marketing see my affiliate marketing guide.

4 thoughts on “Is the Millennial Generation Lazy”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The one thing I have to say about “instant gratification” is that it’s not necessarily the narrative Millennials speak and it is by in large one that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers love to paint. The truth is Millennials are just frustrated over how slow and non-transparent these processes are. They believe things should be done more efficiently with greater transparency. In reality they are less lazy. Things that can be done should be done with a transparent process such that is traceable so if changes are needed, it can be done so without wasting time and money on waiting. The Millennials I manage when given a task, can complete the task sooner and with better results than when I give the same task to a Boomer. This is not to say that no Millennial is lazy, in fact laziness is in all generations. I would generally say that Boomers can talk the talk but Millennials can walk the walk. It only seems like “instant gratification” for our older generations because we’re use to slow and inefficient work flow. Boomers would rather argue with each other whereas Millennials would rather work together.

  2. Great article! I’m not sure what generation I belong to. I’m in my early 50’s. Not a baby boomer or gen X. I guess I’ m in the getting old generation. Anyway, I was raised to work hard, be honest, be loyal. Good advise. Consequently, I wake up at the crack of dawn, to go to a job I happen to love and am very loyal to. In my opinion, millennials don’t always have a sense of loyalty to a place of work because they are not there long enough to have any feelings. It seems they jump from one job to another seeking instant gratification. Nothing wrong with that either. Todays generation has great opportunities at their fingertips. Technology gives people choices of when and where to work. How fortunate to be able to live any place in the world, hold meetings in your pajamas because so much can be done over the internet. I won’t even begin to tell you how long it has taken me to write this comment because I am still learning how to use this thing called computer. Congratulations millennials. Take advantage of this awesome time you are living in, but please don’t loose respect or patience with the older generations.

    1. Adrian Childers

      Thanks for the comment. Below is a rough estimate of the years for each generation.

      Baby Boomers – Everyone born after WW II up until the mid 60’s
      Gen X – About the mid 60’s thru about 1980.
      Gen Y is everyone born from about 1981 – 1995.

      There is also a Generation Jones though, which isn’t referenced as often which lasted just over 10 years for the people born from 1954 – 1965.

  3. I think the millennial generation aka Gen Y, are overall lazy and sad. (I don’t see how blogging is the same as working, but if you get paid for it then it is a job.)
    That being said, if anyone chooses to accept a position in traditional workplace, they should be on time and not leave early 4 times a week. Generation Y thinks work hours are a “loose guideline” for when they should grace us with their presence. They shirk work and take vacation as soon as it accrues. They whine about having to wait 90 days for anything. They think their needs are as important a a mother of 3 kids with chicken pox. They can’t work in teams and complain about dress codes. They constantly break rules and will call you any hour of the weekend to indulge their curiosities. Frankly, I hate hiring them and am tired of dealing with their attitude that we should all accept them.

    An annoyed Gneration X er

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