Gen X and Millennials in the workplace

A college friend hipped me to this article from the Harvard Business Review, which, despite me distaste for business in general, and reviews in particular (I don’t even know what that means but I’ve always liked that turn of phrase. Anyhoo…), was rather interesting. It’s about the contentious relationship between GenXers and the corporate world, and how the author sees this as a bad sign because the corporate world needs us GenXers. Well, imagine that. Corporate America needs Generation X. The only problem, according to the article, is that Generation X is not all the thrilled with the corporate world. No news there. But combine that with a report I heard on NPR this morning about a survey of recent and/or soon to be college graduates thatclaimed that about 70% (not sure on the exact number but it was pretty high) of the young people wanted to start their own business rather than work for a big company, and the corporate system may really have a problem on its hands. At least until all the Boomers shrivel up and turn to dust in the wind, which still might not be for awhile. But by that time Generation X and the Millennials may have determined an alternate business paradigm or whatever. Could such a thing be possible? And if so, what would it look like? Perhaps we’ll evolve to a more niche, independent yet loosely interdependent way of conducting business. One that affords more freedom but also more opportunity, even if it will likely be a bit more unstable. It’s worth contemplating in any case.

Of course, I do not blame Millennials for wanting to avoid the corporate slave state. You can’t trust these fucking self-serving entities. They’ll use you like frat boys use drunk freshamn sorority pledges for the Girls Gone Wild cameras, until you’re no longer of use to them, and then they’ll find a way to usher you out the door, preferably with as little severance and other benefits as possible. Not to mention the whole corporate culture is a mind-suck, time-suck, creativity-fucking-drain, I don’t give a shit what they claim! I mean, really about the only benefit is the fast internet connection.

The problem is, not everyone can run their own successful business. And though the idea of a business community structured as a loosely knit conglomeration of independent contractors utilizing each others’ skills and offering mutual support blah blah blah seems nice and all, it’s probably very highly unlikely. But, dammit! We can dream, can’t we?

Still, despite my cynical GenXer proclivities, I am hopeful that Generation X and the Millennial generation will ultimately work better together than the Boomers and Generation X. Hell, just look at Judd Aptow and his legion of Millennial funny boy actors. Sure, us GenXers will seem cranky and bitter, like Dr. Cox seems to JD on SCRUBS, but also like Perry we really do care and want to help our younger cohorts along their intended paths, we just have a particular style of teaching and mentoring, which I think can best be described as using a spoonful of sugar to get down a shovel-full of dirt. It’s not pleasant but it works, and it makes an lasting impression.


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