Millennials may be the most hated generation ever. Why? Well, the reason that older generations (Gen X and Baby Boomers) despise their millennial colleagues in the workplace is probably not what you think.

Over the years, we've heard that millennials are privileged, cocky, entitled, lazy, impatient and so much more. However, in my extensive experience as a workplace leadership speaker, I've found that the reason that previous generations have a challenge with millennials boils down to this:

Millennials remind older professionals of who they once were.

When older professionals, many who are experiencing a mid-career slump, reminisce about missing the old days, what they are really saying is they miss who they were in the old days. Millennials can be a painful mirror to their once optimistic past.


When many Gen-Xers and Boomers began their careers they, like millennials, were bold. Today, even though they are more equipped, smarter and wiser than they have ever been before in their life, for many boldness has been replaced with passivity. They were more courageous, alive, and a risk taker in their past. Maybe this lack of boldness is because so much has changed for many of them due to responsibilities that they have accumulated over the years (mortgage, car payments, family, etc.) 


When many Gen-Xers and Boomers think back to when they began their career, they had a clear purpose, vision and goals. When they look at their life today, they acknowledge that though they may be successful and have an impressive LinkedIn profile, they're not doing what they originally set out to do with their life and career. This conflicts when they see millennials diving headfirst into pursuing a career fueled by meaning.  

The Fire Is Going Out

Early in their careers, many from previous generations were hungry for success like they see with millennials. This means that they went above and beyond what was asked of them. They did more than was expected of them. But then, something odd happened as they progressed in their job. Instead of continuing to do great work, they started doing "good enough" work. They no longer go above and beyond. Essentially, many have settled. 

From Strong Relationships To Isolation

Early in their careers, like millennials, many from previous generations worked hard to build strong relationships. They surrounded themselves with allies and mentors who made them better. They regularly sought out ways to add value to people in their network. Today, happy hours and lunches have been replaced with Netflix binge viewing and more time spent in isolation. Their personal brand is slowly disappearing. 

What it boils down is that many millennials, the ones that many hate, believe that the best thing that has ever happened to them hasn't happened yet. For older generations, many believe that their best days are behind them. And this is why so many hate millennials.