Entitlement: Perhaps it’s not just for the kids

Posted On January 26, 2015

When considering the different generations in the workforce it is easy to slip into blame and pointing fingers: “Back in my day, we would never talk to our superiors like that” and “They are just so out of touch.” Some folks just like to simply deny the problem off the table: “Oh, the younger generations have always pushed limits, nothing to see here.” It’s not surprising that neither of these approaches helps attract, engage and retain a diverse workforce.

But even as companies are looking at how to focus on the similarities between the generations (rather than complain about the differences) and to construct new policies and approaches that appeal to these similarities, one concept remains largely reserved for the youngest generation. Yes, Millennials are almost exclusively derided for a sense of entitlement. But is that fair?

A recent article in Canada’s Leader-Post delves into some reasons why entitlement may be more of a similarity than many would like to admit. An excerpt:

In her decade of researching the phenomenon of entitlement in the workplace, Carleton University psychology professor Janet Mantler said she’s found evidence to suggest entitlement is going up across the western world, among every age group. It’s just that the people conducting the studies tend to only measure it in youth.

(…)In a world where every kid gets a trophy just for showing up and labour-hungry companies buy warm bodies with hiring bonuses, the result is a kind of false feedback loop that distorts our conception of what we truly deserve. Humans don’t much like to attribute success to luck, Mantler said, so when we reap rewards for literally being in the right place at the right time, we interpret it as confirmation we are innately extraordinary. We don’t think we need to earn rewards – we just expect them.

I’ll just let you ruminate on that one a bit.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Work, Workplace