Workplace generational war breaks out on LinkedIn!


A messy battle between older professionals and Millennials surfaced on LinkedIn recently, and while it had its entertaining aspects, it really brought out the simmering resentment and disdain that many members of each generation feel toward their older/younger workplace counterparts.

Fortunately, none of this will matter once the robots take all our jobs. But until then, it would behoove professionals of all ages to stop with the broad generalizations and tone-deaf proclamations of the other generation’s poor work ethic, gullibility, sense of entitlement, and atrocious taste in music. Can there be no peace, people?

It all started innocently enough with a post titled “Millennials getting duped by scams,” which linked to a CNBC article that referenced a Federal Trade Commission report on consumer complaints filed last year.

“Millennials are more prone to lose money in financial scams than their elders, according to newly released government data,” CNBC wrote. “The Federal Trade Commission reported last week in its annual data summary of consumer complaints that 40 percent of Americans in their 20s who reported fraud in 2017 also said they lost money. By contrast, only 18 percent of victims aged 70 or older reported losing money.”

Full disclosure: When I was in my 20s, I bought a used Toyota Celica and foolishly paid $500 extra for useless undercoating. A few years later, I spent a lesser sum on a bogus baldness cure. The undercoating would have been more effective.

Back to the LinkedIn war: Sam, who identifies his profession as “talent acquisition” (and whose business should be booming after launching this broadside), asserts: “Many millennials are entitled and they know it ALL! In fact, I have one in my office who thinks he knows everything and will never admit when they’re wrong. That’s the worst, arrogance AND stupidity! The funniest thing is that they have no idea about simple things like car insurance and how that works.”

Nor, presumably, tact and discretion! Oddly enough, Sam’s comment did not go unchallenged (comments slightly edited):

Beth (freelance writer, copywriter, journalist): “don’t worry, Sam. That person will likely push you out of your job soon. You don’t sound threatened at all.”

Bob (dog walker): “many old people think they know everything just because their [sic] old! They can be loud and stupid as well and be extremely stubborn as that’s the way they’ve always done it and by golly its the only way to do it. The funniest thing is when they don’t know the simplest things like how to send an email or check their voicemail. (end sarcasm)”

Amie (account manager at a communications firm): “I have had the privilege of working with many brilliant, dedicated “millennials”- all of whom had more important personal and professional traits to bring to the table beyond their generational standing.”

Brendan (HR specialist): “If you have such a strong disdain for millennials, I would question whether you are the appropriate Person to be in Talent Acquisition.”

Matthew (account exec, Millennial home owner): “I’m in Sales Recruiting and it’s unfortunate you feel this way as a recruiter. I don’t think your employer … would agree with your opinion.”

Jason (web apps development intern): “I’ve met plenty of arrogant and stupid people who are baby boomers, you don’t hear any sweeping generalities coming from me about that generation – other than perhaps they completely destroyed a perfectly good planet to live on through massive overconsumption and brazen disregard for environmentalism.”

I see what you did there, Jason.

To be fair, Sam had many folks weighing in on his side:

Clark (PeopleSoft admin consultant): “LOL. Who is surprised? When you’re raised with no boundaries, are entitled to everything without effort, never feel loss because everyone gets a participation trophy and passed through grades without merit, then you never learn, until you learn the hard way by someone scamming you.”

Pat (“stat-head,” IT guy): “Indeed. Step 1: Put the mePhone down for a second and learn how to balance a checkbook (and keep an eye on anyone who’s holding/managing money for you).”

Randy (information security analyst): “A Major in Gender Studies means you are NOT going to get hired making 6 figures, probably not even 5 figures, possibly not even 4 figures. My favorite amongst the kids: C= Degree. Total lack of effort + crap degree = nowhere.”

So what conclusions can we draw from all of this? Here are my four big takeaways:

  1. Enterprise work environments are crackling with unstated tension and inherent mutual lack of respect that undermines productivity and morale. Smart leaders recognize this and take steps to offset it. (HR pros and other leaders, feel free to offer examples here. I’m a freelancer working from home, so what do I know?)
  2. People are too eager to look at differences instead of similarities. For example, do older people really think only Millennials are glued to their “mePhones”? Because I see plenty of older people (including myself) looking at their phones in restaurants, on the street, during meetings, etc.
  3. Workers on both sides of the generational divide need more empathy. Old people, many of you (again, including myself) have Millennial children. I bet most of you are proud of them. Cut the other young folks some slack! Millennials, some older people may not be as tech-savvy as you, but that doesn’t make them clueless about everything else. Try to filter out the boring “in my day” stories to find the genuine nuggets of hard-earned wisdom.
  4. Baldness cures do not work.

I’d love to hear some constructive comments from readers about how we can bridge the generational divide at work and make ourselves and our enterprises more productive and successful.


  1. James O'Sullivan says:

    Are you sure about the baldness cures? (Asking for a friend)


  1. […] response? A single comment, and this from a guy looking for a baldness cure. (OK, for “a friend.”) We’ve got […]

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