60 Minutes sells out Millennials

I finally got around to watching the 60 Minutes segment about the Millenial generation coming into to workplace, The Age of the Millenials.

Here’s how CBS describes the story, “They are young adults and have been coddled by their parents to the point of being ill prepared for a demanding workplace. Morley Safer reports on the generation called “Millenials.”

No bias or editorializing there, eh?

The piece was even worse. It was not just biased, but a con job. There was not even the slightest attempt at fairness or getting a story right. Every single person interviewed was a consultant who makes money teaching companies how to attract and retain these employees. And how do these people sell their services? By whipping up stories about how different and scary this new generation is. 60 Minutes swallowed this hook, line and sinker. There was not one sociologist, psychologist, business owner, or historian interviewed.

Morley Safer, a respected journalist, did not question one outrageous comment or preposterous claim. Anecdotes were accepted as facts, and there was not one shred of research or evidence presented.

You’ll have to watch the piece for yourself to see it all, but these consultants generalized all youth as lazy and spoiled, and blamed permissive parenting, Mr. Rogers, and a culture of rewarding every youthful accomplishment no matter how trivial. So how do these consultants advise companies to handle young employees? By lavishly rewarding them, avoiding criticism, and doing away with the whole “boss” concept. Ironic, eh?

Then they showed videos of employees receiving certificates and rewards for doing a good job. Truly, 60 Minutes portrayed employee incentives as if this was a major innovation. Apparently these people have missed out on something commonly done for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Ancient warriors got extra booty if they were on the winning side. There were probably consultants to Crusader kings advising how to motivate slacker knights to bring home better holy relics. Even I remember my insurance agent father bringing home a catalog of “prizes” for top sales. We got our first color TV that way. This is not new, people!

So there’s the story. This isn’t about a new generation, it’s about consultants cashing in by exploiting companies with a new scare story. Wow, thanks 60 Minutes — way to smear a whole generation with non-existent reporting and free air-time for  consultants!


8 Replies to “60 Minutes sells out Millennials”

  1. Sylvia,
    I also watched the segment on the “Millenials”. In addition, my husband saw one of these consultants that were featured on the show speak to business owners. When my husband saw the consultant, he came home very excited about what he learned about the impact on business by these young people. We talked a great deal about how we’ve raised our kids and how we expect them to be typical of this generation. Young people don’t have the same perspective as our generation or our parents’ generation what it means to have a job and work, that is for sure. We as their parents “indoctrinated” them with views about themselves and the world that made them see things differently. It’s not better or worse; it’s just different. The feature on 60 minutes didn’t bother me when I saw it, because I had already heard all of this from my husband. When I read your post however, I took another look. You are right. Morely Safer really came off as an out-of-touch-old-fogey! Not much focus was made to the fact that these young people are very hard working, self-motivated, particularly collaborative, and very attentive to their families. The have a need to click with their supervisors and work to build trusting relationships with the people in their organizations. Their technical abilities are unsurpassed and are very comfortable with learning new things and applying their knowledge.

    When I saw this segment, I didn’t see it as a smear, but you really opened my eyes.

  2. “Anecdotes were accepted as facts, and there was not one shred of research or evidence presented.”

    This is the reason so few of my co-workers want anything to do with blogs. Do I dare fight them on this?

  3. As a baby boomer, I always thought my paycheck and not getting fired were my rewards for a job well-done. How foolish of me.

  4. Nadine – glad you took a second look!

    Ken – I think that 60 Minutes got it wrong; this has nothing to do with blogs being useful or accurate.

    John – I don’t think anything has really changed, that’s my point. Painting an entire generation as ANYTHING is silly, whether you are pointing fingers at baby boomers or millennials.

    Scott – I totally missed your post! And thanks for capturing some of the outrageous slander and name-calling that the 60 Minutes piece indulged in. Great minds think alike, as they say 😉

  5. I just turned 50, and many, many of my colleagues are in their 20s. I also volunteer teach college-bound seniors via a New York City-based education foundation. Among my own unscientific sample, I do NOT see this alleged blanket entitlement, particularly if the millennial in question is first generation American. I see vibrancy, curiosity, and hope…and that makes me feel good.

    There are jerks in every generation. And there’s a consultant born every minute, and, I guess, a TV program willing to listen to him or her blather.

  6. Martha Garvey says:
    June 2, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Martha, I hope you selected the “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” box and, you have the same email.

    Regarding your comment…very well put. I’m writing a paper for grad school and I touch upon this topic, though, now you’ve got me thinking different.

    I was born in 78′ so I don’t technically fit the 60 Minutes profile and I was raised very hard working blue collar. However, I have worked with a millenial or two, so I identify with the producers.

    But your simple paragraph makes it just seem right…

  7. Josef–thanks! I’ve been really inspired by the hard work and energy of many of my younger colleagues–and my students. I will make *one* blanket statement: Stereotyping is dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

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