Millennials didn’t ruin work vacations, Baby Boomers did

A recent opinion piece in Time suggests no one is taking vacations at work and Millennials are to blame. If it sounds like another jack-off blaming Millennials for something they are not happy about because it’s not the 1950s, it’s because that is exactly what that piece is.

Like every other “blame the Millennials” opinion piece, the true problem lies within the generation most of these writers belong to: Baby Boomers.

In the survey, nearly half (48 percent) of Millennials indicated they “want to be seen as a work martyr,” compared with the 39 percent overall average, 39 percent of Gen Xers and 32 percent of Boomers. Furthermore, 35 percent of Millennials believe being seen as a work martyr by their colleagues is a good thing, compared with 26 percent of Gen Xers and 20 percent of Boomers. Millennials also indicated higher rates of making others feel a sense of shame for taking a vacation.

Time’s headline read “It’s the Millennials’ Fault You Can’t Take a Vacation.” It’s not here, and here’s why.

Global economy and competition

One aspect of the workplace that is new to the older generations and more commonplace for the younger generation is the fact we now live in a global economy/society. The rise of the internet has made communication – and therefore business – over long distances practically instantaneous.

As a Department of Labor report reveals, job ads in the United States consisted of “typists, switchboard operators, mimeograph repair technicians, keypunchers and elevator operators.” These are jobs that can only be done by someone local. With a limited pool of applicants, competition was also limited. Therefore, confidence in job security was also higher.

Today, job ads are looking for webmasters, LAN operators and desktop publishers. Anyone in the United States can fulfill the job, and if the company really wants to save money, it can outsource the work overseas. Competition for many jobs has dramatically increased now that job applicants have spread nationally and globally.

Adding insult to injury, the world population is forever increasing. According to the same DOL report, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 50 percent by 2050. Although global population growth is decreasing, the population from 1950 to 2015 increased by nearly 200 percent from 2.5 billion to 7.4 billion.

In 1980, there were 4.4 billion people in the world. Back then, we weren’t nearly has connected as we are today. Competition was mostly local, national for the more skilled workers. Speaking of skilled workers, let’s talk about competition among college graduates…

More people are graduating from college

I’m going to safely assume that Time wasn’t addressing working class jobs such as mechanics, warehouse workers and the like. I’ve worked these jobs and believe me, we take advantage of every second of available time off. No one wants our job, including us.

From the 1970s through most of the 1990s, the percentage of 25-29 year-olds to complete college was in the low 20s. In 2015, that number grew to approximately 36 percent.Capture

A college degree used to be the Golden Ticket to success and the American Dream. That’s probably because fewer people had one and global competition wasn’t much of a thing, making job-seeking much easier. Even if Millennials did not have to deal with global competition, college graduates would still be competing with a larger talent pool, especially considering the dramatic population increase in the last four decades.

“As our population becomes more diverse and global competition expands employers can’t afford to underutilize any segment of the American talent pool.”

That quote came from the DOL report cited above. It’s indicative of the career struggles Millennials are facing that Gen Xers and Boomers never had to deal with at the same age.

There is one thing the older generations have to deal with that the Greatest Generation escaped: retirement…or the lack thereof.

Gen Xers and Boomers won’t get out of the way

One aspect of the workforce that Millennials are struggling with is advancement. Due to the Great Recession (which the Millennials had nothing to do with) and technology phasing people out of jobs – thereby forcing veteran workers to start from scratch with a new career – more and more Boomers are finding it difficult to retire “on time” if at all.

A Gallup poll highlighted this phenomenon. In the early 1990s, the average retirement age was 57. That age increased to 60 from 2002 to 2012. As of 2014, the average retirement age increased again to 62.

Those five extra years are pretty crucial to the development of a young professional. When a Millennial cannot advance in his or her career because the older generations in the higher positions won’t leave, it delays their progress. One might say they have incentive to work harder than ever before to catch any break they can…

Gen Xers and Baby Boomers need to get off Millennials’ lawn

Are Millennials the reason why you can’t take a vacation at work? No.

Technology, global competition, a Great Recession, increased populations, more college graduates, fewer retirees. THOSE are the reasons why you can’t take a vacation and Millennials cannot be blamed for any of those factors. The older generations paved the way for those developments that would create the reality Millennials would grow up in, to no fault of their own.

The irony in all this is that the older generations have been calling Millennials lazy coworkers up until this point, as pointed out in this Fortune article. Or how about this CNBC story?

We’re lazy until it doesn’t fit their narrative. Ironically, Millennials need to tell the older generations to get off our lawn.

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