Why Millennial Men Should Embrace Being Bad Employees

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Among other facets of life, millennial men have a terrible reputation in the workplace. The older generations think we’re lazy and entitled. Instead of 401Ks and dental benefits, they think we just want free lattes and Craft Beer Fridays (yeah, that’s a thing at some companies).

Look, let’s be fair. Everyone wants free lattes and delicious, cold craft beers at work. That sounds awesome.

But, as a generation that loves to create and think outside of the box, it’s irritating that older generations somehow devalue our approach. The elder millennials like myself are closing in on 40 years old. Many of us are now the decision-makers steering the ship. Are we really that bad? 

I have my thoughts.

Yeah, Millennial Men suck as employees.

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Whoa, whoa, hold on. Don’t start lashing out at me yet. I never said we’re lazy. I never implied that we’re entitled. I never said we’re incapable. We’re just bad employees.

Unlike most millennials, I went to work right out of high school. While my friends were going to college and working at the movie theater three nights a week, I worked a full-time, blue-collar job that paid decently for an 18 to 22-year-old kid. I didn’t go back to school until I was 28 years old.

I always worked with older men. Whether they were supervisors or co-workers, I worked with guys that were at least 15 years old than I was. Many were twice my age.

That generation is different. I promise you; they’re different than us. They’re like Pavlov’s dogs to the overtime bell. They always answer their phone. They come to work sick. They break their backs for their employers. They don’t even check their phones in front of their supervisors.

Good for them. That’s not us. 

I’m not implying one generation is better than the other, but we simply don’t work that way. As millennials, we expect sick time, decent pay, and flexible work schedules. We want to be friends with our coworkers. Hell, we want to be friends with our supervisors. We don’t want to break our backs. And when the day is done, we’re out — screw overtime.

For those reasons alone, we are crappy employees in the eyes of the older generation.

But, are Millennial Men hard workers?

Hell yes, we’re hard workers.

According to Matt Havens, a business coach and public speaker, millennials are some of the hardest workers there have ever been. We just go about it differently. We’re problem solvers and open-minded thinkers. We collaborate, communicate, and navigate issues other generations just accepted at face value.

That also makes us bad employees by the old standards. 

A “good” employee puts their head down, does what their boss wants, and moves on. Digging into problems to solve them takes time. Side-stepping those issues, throwing on your blinders, and putting one foot in front of the other keeps the machine moving forward.

But at what cost?

Millennial Men Love Problems

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Millennial men love problems. We attack them head-on, attempting to solve issues at their root causes. We don’t plaster over them and move on. We do this with business, social issues, and financial scenarios.

Our parents raised us to believe we have the answers to all of our problems. We dig and dig for those answers. 

While that might make us bad employees, it does make us incredible leaders.

Being a lousy employee is okay.

Now, I’m painting with broad strokes, and The Graying Area is all about understanding that nothing is black and white. Many millennials are good employees, and we should be thankful for them because we could not survive without them. They are the backbone of our generation.

But, if you’re a bad employee, that’s okay. I haven’t always been a great employee. I’ve called out sick when I wasn’t actually ill. I haven’t always been overly motivated. I’ve chosen time-off over time-and-a-half literally hundreds of times in my life.

I’ve never been late, though. I hate being late.

Maybe I’m a lousy employee, but I’m an incredible business owner. You might not think I’m a great writer, but my clients never wonder where I am, what I’m doing, or why they haven’t heard from me. Since I started working for myself, I’ve never taken a sick day. I never disappear. I always answer my phone. 

I deliver the goods.

While he’s not a millennial, Kevin O’Leary has been very clear that he has always been a bad employee. This CNBC story explains the moment he realized it.

Millennials are absolutely geared for entrepreneurism. It’s in our blood. It’s why platforms like YouTube and Instagram exist. We are dedicated to our craft. We create. We solve problems. We are precisely the type of people that make great business owners.

I own and operate three businesses. Two of those businesses were operating in the black in the first 30 days. The third business is The Graying Area, and it’s a work in progress. 

I’m not saying this because I’m a business genius. I’m truly not. I’m saying that I’m a hard worker, and I’m willing to do what it takes to succeed. Most other millennial men are the same way. It’s who we are.

Ask Yourself Why

If you’re struggling at work, take a look at why that is. Is it that you hate what you’re doing? Why do you hate it? Are you in the wrong field? Is it your boss’s fault? Or, are you just a bad employee? Really ask yourself these questions and dissect your answers, going a layer deeper every time you think you found the cause.

Look, if you’re a lazy person, I’m not the guy to motivate you. Try Joe Rogan, David Goggins, or Jocko Willink. Those guys will get you off your ass. But, if you’re a motivated person struggling to find meaning in your work life, it might be because you should be working for yourself. 

It’s never been easier to start a business than it is today. I’m not saying all millennial men need to create a blog, vlog, app, or internet-based business — though they could. There’s room for it. But, they could also start a tree-trimming service or a floral shop. Whatever it is that excites them.

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You can be a bad employee AND a great business owner.

Once you hang up your shingle and start working for yourself, you’ll probably notice your entire outlook shift. Even if you don’t quit your day job right away, the flexibility and pride you’ll experience as a business owner will change your outlook on exchanging your time for money. 
The first step is embracing that you might be a bad employee without accepting someone referring to you as lazy, entitled, or worthless. Appreciate that being a bad employee could be a sign that you might be an incredible business owner.