Julia Baird, in a recent Newsweek column, reported some astonishing statistics from the Council on Contemporary Families that show that men are cheating less, spending more time with their families, and doing more housework than ever before.  What caught my eye in particular was this: “Millennial fathers…spend an average of 4.3 hours per workday with their kids, which is almost double that of their counterparts in 1977.  A Families and Work Institute report found that these young dads are actually now spending more time each day with children under 13 than mothers between the ages of 29 and 42 are with their own.”

In generational diversity classes across many different companies, industries and government agencies, I continue to hear this constant refrain of the Boomers: “Generation Y has no work ethic, no manners, no consideration for others.” No amount of reminding them that they are Gen Y’s parents seems to change their tune, nor does talking about Generation Y’s penchant for socially responsible work, work that contributes to a global mission.  I’ve tried talking about how the Millenials work well in teams, how the concept of respectful behavior has changed over time, and how the tech-savviness of this generation can be harnessed and put to use mentoring older workers.  Still, all I hear from Boomers is that these kids ain’t got no respect.  When will we stop complaining and start recognizing that they are the future of our organizations?  We won’t get what we want by trashing them.

It’s tempting to chalk all this up to the perpetual complaining of the old about the young that has been a fact of life for centuries.  But when you see that passionate distaste that colors the conversation in class after class, you start looking for other means of argument.  That Gen Y fathers are more focused on spending time with their children shouldn’t be a surprise to us, when you think about it; this is a generation that saw (or at least heard about) their parents once being more dedicated to work and career than to family.  They don’t want to make the same mistakes.

The downside of the trend?  Baird quotes a University of California law professor who says that 59 percent of employed fathers in dual-earner families said they suffered from work-family conflict, up from 35 percent in 1977.  All the more reason why, instead of talking about the entitlement and laziness of the younger generation, we need to focus on creating programs and resources for work-life balance that are equally accessible to both genders as well as all age groups.  And we need to manage by results, not by time spent in office chairs.  And we need to recognize that there is a big difference between lack of work ethic and a recognition of what’s most important in life.   The Millenials may be the first generation to truly have their priorities straight.

Comments are closed.