The name Tyler Palko probably rings a bell: he spent four years in the NFL, including some time with the Kansas City Chiefs. Today, Tyler is extremely passionate about the millennial generation and does millennial training with his company, Solutions 21. Work Warrior chatted with Tyler about separating millennial myth from millennial reality, and here’s what he had to say.
For those on the cusp of Millenials, it’s natural to have a generational “identity crisis” — and here’s why:
“There’s no shortage of data and research here. There can be dates where they say all Millenials are born in the 2000s, etc., but we use the Census Bureau data. You see a bunch of statistics on where all these generations are cut off, but we use the Census Bureau because it’s a respected source. The oldest Millenial is 37 right now, and the youngest is 19.”
We could hardly believe it either. But, Tyler continued,
“Because Millenials carry a negative connotation for anybody outside the Millenial generation, those on the cusp, who are nearly Gen X’ers might say, oh, I’m not a millennial . . .” And in our efforts to differentiate ourselves, we’re not trying to separate ourselves from the generation, but from the stereotypes about the generation.
It’s not our generation that makes us who we are — it’s actually what we’ve lived through that makes us who we are. How?
“. . . People in today’s society like to silo people. You’re a Baby Boomer, you’re a Gen X’er, etc. What we found is that people of every generation exhibit certain characteristics that are evident based on how they grew up, how they were raised. My grandfather, for example, grew up in the Depression, so he exhibits traits based on growing up in that environment. Not good, not bad, not anything, just how he was raised. Evolution, technology, life events . . . Each generation has characteristics they exhibit based on how they were raised, the time period and events that took place during that time.”
Every Millenial has lived through the September 11 attacks and the 2008 economic downturn. Each generation has a few defining moments. How are these key for the Millenial generation?
“. . These events definitely affect our decision-making. Millenials don’t want to sit here and wait our turn. It’s not feasible, it didn’t work. There are other ways to get around to the end goal. And we also saw [in these events] that life’s too short. Things can be taken away from you like that. We experienced 9/11 at an impressionable age and so we start to mold our ideas around that.” So, Tyler continued, it’s a natural response to these events when Millenials look for flexible work environments, a work-life balance and other workplace characteristics.
So then let’s dispel that ultimate millennial myth. AreMillenials lazy?
“Sure – and every other generation out there! Yes, Millenials are lazy. So are Gen-X’ers. Baby Boomers? Darn right. Not everybody is the hardest worker. But . . .you can’t fault facts and statistics. . . . Statistics say that Millenials actually work 1.5 hours longer than any other generation out there!” But this happens under two conditions, Tyler continued: “This happens if they’re engaged in their work, and sometimes it’s nontraditional hours. So just because an employee doesn’t work within a traditional schedule or in a traditional way, doesn’t mean it’s not right. The whole purpose of getting the most out of Millenials is to make sure they’re engaged. Tell that to a Baby Boomer and they might say, well, I’ve been here for 20 years, I’m not coddling them. Well, we didn’t say coddle. We said, make sure we’re engaged.” Think meaningful work and meaningful schedules for great productivity.