Don’t Call Them Gen Y. It’s “Millennials”

January 3, 2006 | By Kyra Kyles

Citing a rift between Gen X and Gen Next, Neil Howe and William Strauss reject the Generation Y label altogether.

Howe and Strauss call the next group of workers infiltrating the office “Millennials” and document their differences from Gen X in the 2000 book Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation.

Born during and after 1982, Millennials are just beginning to enter the workforce, Howe said. Their oldest members are 23 and do not follow in X’s footsteps.

“Frankly, they resent the comparison,” Howe said.

Other researchers define Gen Y as the age group born between 1978 and 1989.

Like Gen X, Millennials will not stay at the same company forever, but they aren’t as quick to quit if things don’t work out, Howe said. They are more willing to research and carefully plan their careers, even living at home for extended periods of time until their careers are on track.

“Their parents doted on them from childhood to college and made sure they had everything,” Howe said. “Because of that, they see themselves as truly special. They put a tremendous effort into everything they do.”

This attitude separates Millennials from Gen X, a “nation of latchkey kids” who didn’t expect much from their distant, often divorced parents.

“If Generation X was at home alone, Millennials were involved in all kinds of school activities with their parents’ participation,” Howe said. “We call them the overscheduled generation.”

Howe said society pins a lot of hope on Millennials, considered to be more politically interested and teamwork-oriented than previous generations.

“We foresee Millennials to be a political and civic powerhouse of [a] generation,” Howe said. “They will likely fill the vacuum left by X.”

Even though Howe and Strauss dubbed Millennials “the next great generation,” it’s unwise to put them on a pedestal, Howe said.

“They’re just beginning to make their impact,” Howe said. “No generation is all good or bad. It’s all hindsight.”

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