An Entitled Generation Hits the Workforce

Despite younger workers earning significantly less than the seasoned
professionals in the business place, they are more likely to be canned
during lay-offs. On May 19, the Wall Street Journal reported that the
unemployment rate for those between the ages of 25 and 34 was 9.6 percent in
April 2009. Workers over the age of 55 experienced an unemployment rate
of 6.2 percent. While there are several factors driving the disparity, one
glaring issue is our “entitlement mindset.”

The entitlement mindset is a cocktail comprised of one part materialism,
one part media depiction mixed thoroughly with three parts pride. The
mindset is contrary to biblical teachings, harmful to our careers and
leads to higher dissatisfaction and stress in the workplace.
Northwestern Mutual’s report in partnership with HarrisInteractive,
“Millennium Generation Studies,” describes this generation as eager but
anxious. The anxiousness was found to be a derivative of growing up
quickly, political pessimism, dissatisfaction with American leadership,
and grappling with our own beliefs and values.

Some of the attributes of the entitlement mindset are quite positive: higher
self-esteem, the ability to openly speak our minds, and willingness to
take on risks and start new ventures. These attributes can still be
exhibited, but, as Christ-followers, we must strive to avoid the
negative aspects of entitlement.

In Matthew 25, Jesus shares the parable of the talents. It is a depiction of how a good employee achieves success. While the parable is directly speaking to how we should use the gifts and resources God has given us for spiritual
things, it is equally as applicable to our business lives.

The parable tells of a master that leaves town and entrusts his resources
to three of his servants. The first two servants take the resources and
double them. The third servant is fearful of failing and just holds on
to the resources to ensure that he has them when the master returns.
Upon the master’s return, the first two servants are entrusted with
more resources and praised, while the third is scolded and sent away.

There are several lessons that can be learned from this passage. First, don’t
expect to be rewarded until you have proven yourself over time and
through strong performance. The expectation of rewards in the form of
raises, autonomy, bonuses and praise should follow the proof of
performance, not precede it. Many times we expect that because we
graduated from good schools, are savvy networkers and have the ability
to multi-task, we are owed something before we show how great we are.

The second lesson learned is that we need to be good stewards of the
resources we are entrusted with, regardless of the scope or scale.
Whether we are entrusted with company cars, credit cards, client lists,
relationships, intellectual property or simply our time on the clock,
we are called to be good stewards. Being faithful in small things leads
to bigger and better responsibilities (and eventually beefier
paychecks).

Lastly, we learn that our responsibility is to make our boss successful. Even if your boss is a jerk (see Luke 19), your time is his or her resource. If we make sure our bosses are successful, they will help us be successful as well. While this sounds easy, it can truly be an exercise in humility. The line is thin between self-confidence and pride. We as young professionals like to show how great we are. Humility is a rare commodity in business.

While there are three glaring issues that we can learn, there is an
underlying lesson in the passage in which we are generally excelling.
Our generation is characteristically well-equipped to take a risk. The
rebuke in the passage was reserved for the servant that lazily hid away
his meager talent. We are expected to step up, but to do so in a
respectful and humble way.

About the Author

Jamie Spruyt is the director of public markets at Syracuse University.

13 Comments

Mike Ferrante

1

Mike Ferrante commented…

I think there needs to be a balance...Are there senses of entitlement, yes. Because of this being an isolated article, the it seems a little stronger. I appreciate the comment about working to make our workplaces better and striving to be change agents. So many times I have seen both in church and in the workplace, our generation up and leave because it is not offering what they want..so they leave..So the issue really is entitlement. But I say that every generation has dealt with this mindset. The grass is always greener on the other side! We are never satisfied, its part of being American! It is a blessing and a curse! It keeps us home until we find what we want, all the while driving our parents up the wall because they ant to turn our room into the fitness room/office! The balance I believe as the article is trying to convey, the biblical principle:
Bloom where you are planted

Sara

4

Sara commented…

This discussion on the politics of the corporate/office/9-5 world is exactly why I wasn't made for it and am not working in it!

85,538

cutenerd commented…

I'm 26 and I've heard all the hype about the millenials having unrealistic expectations. But generally speaking, that unwarranted idealism cultivated in our college years fade away when the realities of life out of the ivory tower become manifest in our lives. Every generation prior to us, ESPECIALLY the baby boomers, had grand dreams that they scaled back on as they got married, had kids, and bought a house. After a few years, this generation will continue to do what our parents did. The writer of Ecclesiastes was correct when he stated that God makes history repeat itself. In any case, the youthful optimism of 20 and 30-somethings quickly fades when we realize we can't afford a flat screen TV, an I-phone, a new hybird car, and the other things we supposedly like, while working at a socially-conscious coffehouse or non-profit org. Ideals are generally the first thing to get sacrficed on the altar of reality....ho hum.

85,538

Stefan commented…

don't you think our high hopes and standards are what cultivate this 'entitlement mindset'? A lot of what you're saying sounds like entitlement... Like, 'I'm entitled to working with a better company' or 'I'm entitled to wait for the career I want' or 'I'm entitled to work with smarter, talented folks'

85,538

ArcadeBelle commented…

I agree with what I most of what's in the article (work hard, be content with what you have) but not the part about putting up with and continuing to work for a jerk. If you're dealing with a bona fide workplace bully -- not just a trivial personality conflict -- that's one situation as a Christian where I think you're entitled to be entitled. Yes, a girl's gotta eat, but if you have the power to go elsewhere, then you SHOULD go elsewhere, or you are enabling bad behavior. Working hard for someone who can never be pleased isn't helping that person any more than buying drinks for an alcoholic. I realize that in a recession, people don't always have options, but you don't have to prostitute your mind and soul, any more than your body, if you can help it.

I think too often the Church in the U.S. of America has told battered women, abused kids, abused altar boys, slaves, and mistreated workers to stay in abusive situations because "authority" trumps human dignity as being made in the image of God. And the Church would do well to separate leaving abusive situations, from what can be genuinely called "an entitlement mentality."

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