Are Gen Y And Millennials The Same Thing

Paul Gonzalez
• Wednesday, 27 January, 2021
• 7 min read

If they have a good enough background and seem to make enough sense, people just accept it. When I give presentations, people often think that the government’s Census Bureau does the research on generations.

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Yes, that means research can be skewed and distorted to fit a business agenda, because there is no ‘generation’ police. The ‘expert’ who wins the battle for the generation name, gets to be the source for generation information, leading to backlinks, interview requests and consulting gigs.

Other times, it is a breakthrough book explaining a generation phenomenon. In every case, the expert throws their term into the sea of the business world and finds out if it will be accepted.

Interestingly enough, Wyoming likes to use the term Millennial 20 times more than the Generation Y. However, the less credible the source, you will tend to get a lot more polarizing data.

For instance, none of the sources in this article talk about avocado sandwiches. That was a term caught on in 2016 after a writer criticized Millennials for spending too much on avocado sandwiches.

The culture stereotypes are often different from the actual generation research. I would suggest using the term Millennials and use Pew Research(1981-1996) for the generation years.

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The information is everywhere: magazine articles, news media, Internet blogs and corporate training programs. There are research institutions who are devoting entire divisions to studying the Millennial generation.

There is even a TV show titled “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.” The question now is not whether you have heard about generational differences. Around the year 2000 many studies were published about the unique phenomenon of several generations in the workforce at the same time.

Consider these examples: Many Baby Boomers state that they will not retire until they have something else important to do. This means that younger employees have greater opportunities to be promoted into decision-making or management roles faster than ever before and are, therefore, influencing the workplace earlier than previous generations had the opportunity to do.

Many of the early resources on generational differences explained this phenomenon well and helped us to understand how shared historical experiences affect our mindsets about the world in which we live and work. They often fail to mention that two people who were born on the same day may have experienced history differently due to gender, race, religion, geographical location, etc.

The books describe generational differences that existed at that time. But by recognizing how our experiences affect our perceptions, we can actually interact more proficiently and compassionately.

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When we see people handling the same situation so differently, we tend to perceive this as a personal conflict. Rather, it is simply diversity of approaches based on experience.

It is essential to understand these rapidly changing influences and not believe all the negative stereotypes. Others in this generation are all by themselves, halfway across the globe, making the world a better place.

Remember: only a small percentage of Baby Boomers were actually members of the hippie movement. There is a difference in mindset about the constant use of technology if you were in college when you bought your first phone to keep in touch with friends, versus if your parents gave you your first phone at the age of ten to keep track of you and keep you safe.

Based on listening to the comments of participants while facilitating “Generations at Work” training programs for thousands of people over the past ten years, I agree with these delineations. For example, many participants in the Gene category have said that they may have started out exhibiting the traits that were attributed to early Millennials, but now that they have been in the workforce for a while, they believe the description of Gen X fits them more aptly.

We must consider the generation who raised, coached, taught or mentored us. Consider this: we have noticed for quite some time the differences between Baby Boomers and Gen X.

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There is bound to be a difference in these two categories simply because of parental influence. Baby Boomers told them that finding a job you are passionate about will mean that you will never “work” a day in your life; hence, the job-hopping tendency.

Unfortunately, because of the economy, not as many entry-level part-time jobs are available to them to gain the experience they seek as were available to the Millennials. As toddlers, Gen Z played with iPads they found lying around the house.

How can we know for sure what their mindsets will be about their careers when the majority of Gen Z hasn’t entered the full-time workforce yet? Yet, it is important to recognize these differences among our younger generations if for no other reason than to decide the best means of communicating with them: email, text, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

The term Millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and 1990s, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The 2008 book “Trophy Kids” by Ron Alsop discusses how many young people have been rewarded for minimal accomplishments (such as mere participation) in competitive sports, and have unrealistic expectations of working life.

The article also points out that Millennials may be simply adapting quickly to a world undergoing rapid technological change. A 2012 study found Millennials to be “more civically and politically disengaged, more focused on materialistic values, and less concerned about helping the larger community than were Gene (born 1962-1981) and Baby Boomers (born 1946 to about 1961) at the same ages,” according to USA Today.

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The study was based on an analysis of two large databases of 9 million high school seniors or entering college students. Other positives adjectives to describe them include confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and receptive to new ideas and ways of living.

In a survey of more than 26,000 American adults, about 15 percent of Millennials between 20 and 24 reported having no sexual partners since the age of 18. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016 also found that teen Millennials were less sexually active that previous generations.

There is a spirited, if not tiresome, debate about whether Millennials are self-entitled narcissists or open-minded do-gooders; surely the truth lies somewhere in-between. Research presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (PSP) in San Diego found that Millennials themselves do believe that they are more narcissistic that previous generations, but they don't like it.

“There is a very consistent and reliable trend where all indicators of individualism been on the rise over the course of the last 100 years,” Igor Grossman, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo, told an audience at the PSP meeting. Other scholars have pointed out that the attempt to make generalizations about an entire generation is a futile effort.

Further, some have suggested that discussion of Millennials tends to focus on mostly white youth from suburban areas, ignoring the unique experience of immigrants and minorities. I tell them Millennials or Generation Y, are the behavior patterns associated with people born in specific time frame periods.

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Yes, Millennials and Generation Y are not the something even though countless people use the two terms interchangeably. It's a marketing game to see who can get their term accepted by the major media outlets.

As they suggested: ‘In retrospect, the name didn’t age well and seemed to presume that the generation was an iteration of the Gen Hers we called “cynical, purple-haired blobs watching TV.” As the oldest turn 30, we tend to call them millennials now.’ Pew Research, known for their update to date studies on workplace dynamics, coined Millennials as a different range than the originators of the term.

The Center’s research, consulting, and speaking clients range from Fortune 500 companies to venture-backed start-ups. We cut through the myths and generational noise to serve clients in industries ranging from automotive, banking, and financial services to software, restaurants, hoteliers, and retail.

However, just like Millennials, there are several outlets battling for who will win the contest of adoption. Leah Hennessy is a Millennial with a wine brokerage business.

Of course, we are all guilty of painting with a broad brush, and Millennials are right to be sensitive about it. The issue is even more complicated in that Millennials often nurture many interests and sides to their personality.

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Sixty-one percent of Millennials are ‘Doers’ who feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world. Pew provides a wealth of data for segmentation on politics, media use, values and religious beliefs.

With all this data at our disposal it’s time to stop thinking of Millennials as a monolithic group and start finding some meaningful segmentations. As Leah Hennessy reminds us, “It’s crucial that you don’t make the same mistake by judging and generalizing in this way, even if it’s not on purpose.

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