If you’re between the ages of 19 and 35, chances are you’ve been treated to a lecture or snarky comment (or five) about millennials. Whether it’s our smartphone obsessions, hookup culture, or lazy and entitled career attitude, baby boomers and Gen-Xers love to analyze our generation’s habits and then rail about ’em. That’s why a new study disproving the idea that millennials have a weaker work ethic than other generations, recently published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, is So. Damn. Satisfying.
The study was a meta-analysis of 105 other published studies about the work habits of various American demographics, using a metric called the Protestant work ethic—or PWE—endorsement. Even though the word “Protestant” might hint at religious origins, the current secular interpretation of this scale is that people with high PWE prioritize work, avoid wasting time, and are ethical. People with high PWE also tend to be happier in their jobs, more committed to organizations, and have higher job performances (as well as “decreased social loafing,” ha).
Essentially, three tests the researchers did found zero difference between generational work ethics, as interpreted by the PWE scale. Even though significantly different socioeconomic circumstances, politics, and cultures shaped each generation, baby boomers, generation X, and millennials all rated similarly in terms of work ethic. The only noteworthy difference they found is that paid workers tended to have higher work ethic than students. (Duh—money’s a motivator, people.)
The researchers say their findings are important not only to vindicate millennials from the annoying stereotypes that plague us, but also because we’re going to be working alongside those older generations for years to come. In order to work together most effectively, managers don’t necessarily need to create special policies or initiatives targeted at millennial employees: They just need to let us do our thing and we’ll end up contributing just as much to the companies where we work—even if it’s in a different way. Yeah, we could have told you that! 🙄