The scourge of the Entitlement Generation

Oct 04 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The work ethic of new entrants into the labour market is under assault. The "Entitlement Generation" - those born between 1979 and 1994 - have been described as impatient, self-serving, disloyal, unable to delay gratification - in short, feeling that they are entitled to everything without working for it.

But is this perception justified? Wayne Hochwarter, an associate professor of management in Florida State University's College of Business, recently conducted a study to see if the perception of entitlement exists in organisations and, if it does, how it affects employees at work.

His research, which examined the attitudes of nearly 600 employees across a wide range of occupations, suggests that perceptions of entitlement are alive and well in many companies.

For example, Hochwarter found that half (55 per cent) of workers believe that many employees act as if they are more deserving than others at work without "paying their dues".

"I don't know where these kids come off thinking they are entitled to things it took me 20 years to get," a Chicago management consultant told the researchers.

Graduates aren't willing to do the grunt work necessary to learn the job, but they sure want the perks

"College grads aren't willing to do the grunt work necessary to learn the job, but they sure want the perks," added a vice president of human resources.

The effects of these attitudes on group dynamics were marked. When employees reported that others in their work group "acted entitled", the researchers found that job satisfaction, motivation, productivity and engagement all suffered.

Not only were employees not concentrating as much on their work, they were less passionate, less likely to keep their word, less empathetic toward others and less likely to offer social support to colleagues.

In groups infected by 'Entitlementitis', workers reported more tense relationships and even higher levels of workplace depression.

Hochwarter's findings also indicate that the phenomenon affects differenent age groups in different ways. For example, younger employees (those ages 30 and younger) reported more perceived entitlement than older workers (those ages 50 and older) - and their attitudes reflected these disparities.

Younger employee reported 600 per cent more job dissatisfaction than older employees and 50 per cent more job tension when co-workers acted entitled.

"It is clear that perceived entitlement is a greater threat to younger employees than older ones," Hochwarter said.

"Typically, older employees are more secure and have gotten what they want out of their jobs. Since many younger employees have not, they are afraid that others are going to use manipulation to get what they want, rather than working for it."

But its is not all bad news. As Hochwarter also pointed out, the Entitlement Generation also brings a great deal of talent, energy and technical savvy to the workplace.

What this means is that managers who assume all employees have the same needs at work and can be handled in the same are going to have a difficult time getting the best out of their younger workers.

"It is necessary to develop long-term career plans for all employees," Hochwarter said. "However, it is increasingly important to do so with employees fresh out of school.

If the demands of the "entitlement generation" are not at the very least recognised as an issue, it can have an insidious, long-term effect on the workplace, Hochwater argued. "These individuals will not put up with the ambiguity that saturates most work settings. If they don't know where they can get, how to get there, and what it will get them, they are not going to 'buy in' to the objectives of the firm."

Older Comments

I'm sorry but I disagree with this whole 'Entitlement Generation' stuff. I'm 16 years old and am doing my junior composition persuasive paper on how UNTRUE and UNJUSTIFIED this all is.

First of all you say that we are basically wrong and spoiled for haveing cell phones, computers, cars, I-pods, and whatever else we have but 'don't deserve'. That is not our fault. The reason we have all these things and your generations didn't is because there is more technology available than 30, 20, even 10 years ago. Also our parents are the ones buying these things for us, if they aren't then we are working for them. That means YOUR generation is spoiling US, we are not spoiling ourselves.

In the workplace we do request a lot of time off, but that is only because we are all so busy not because we are lazy. Our generation has more homework on average than any other generation before us. There are also a lot more activities that we are involved so we can't always work. It is important for us to put school and it's activities first to have good grades and an impressive college resume.


I am seeing the scourge of the entitlement generation on a daily basis, and it is a bigger problem than most people realize. I hope that the composition paper mentioned in the debate doesn't grade on spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Perhaps teenagers are too involved in their many activities, after all.

Studying Entitlement

My feeling is that 'the entitlement generation' is of the opinion that if it can't be done on a computer or a cell phone, and/or requires a bead of sweat, forget's not important.


I don't know what to say other than entitlement is like communism. It looks good on paper, but the result is a LOT less than perfect. Entitlement is causing my generation (I'm 15) to think in a way that is destructive. The majority of my peers, like Denny, think that anyone that says we are spoiled, impolite, lazy, impatient, etc. are old, close-minded, anti-technology idiots that should go somewhere. However, I believe that entilement is destroying the work ethic that people used to have. Their attitudes are like a kid in one of my classes at school: 'I don't have to learn anything or do my work because I am going to be famous one day and everything will be given to me whenever I want it!' That to me is so messed up, I don't know what to say. Others think that because we have technology that can do stuff for us, like calculators, we shouldn't have to learn how to do certain things, like matricies or our multiplication tables. I'm not against technology, come on. I'm fifteen; I love technology! I just agree with what one of my teachers says when he lectures us about this stuff: 'You guys need to UNDERSTAND this stuff and not just spit out memorized answers for a good grade. You need to WORK, a concept that to some of you is strange. Now that you have computers that do this stuff for you doesn't mean you shouldn't do it; it means that you should do more of it because 1) it's a lot easier to do it, and 2)you need to know what the computer is doing so that you actually understand what you are trying to do!' At the same time, kids are still working. Maybe not as hard as they used to 'back in the day', but some of them are still working pretty hard. I wish I could write more, but a have tons of homework to finish (see, I work!).

Ponder this: have you ever noticed that people in less fortunate countries tend to work harder? (sometimes I imagine them laughing at how lazy and somewhat corrupt the US is becoming.)


When you are told your entire life that getting good grades and going to a good college will help you get ahead, it sets expectations high for the workforce. I am in my mid-20's, and I can recall many school assemblies where we were told to go to college if we wanted our dreams to come true. We were also told to find our passion, which does not typically coincide with entry-level roles. It's just a rude awakening to get out into the workforce feeling like you have worked incredibly hard on endless hours of homework throughout your youth, juggled volunteerism and extracurriculars, studied abroad, etc. only to start out at the same point as others who did not go to school. I honestly feel that there exists an unspoken rule in many firms that you just have to 'do your time,' even if you have more education than others who have more tenure. Perhaps our education system should set more realistic expectations, so that fresh new grads won't be prepared for workplace satisfaction right off the bat. You can goof off in college, as long as you cram in the end, and get rewarded with high grades. In the workplace, you can't have to work hard at a steady pace and prove yourself. This is not really what school sets young people up for. Your academic performance is what carries you in school, but in the real world it's not just your smarts, but it's your attitude, your dependability, your enthusiasm and energy, etc. that count. The current working generations and the education system need to send the proper message to the newbies instead of making it sound like knowing how to work an iphone and create a website will get them to the senior executive level by 24 years old. Teaching college courses on taxes and other real life matters would be a smart place to start. Our generation was raised differently, watching lawsuits take place constantly. Entitlement resulted from a cultural ripple-effect. It was not born with the Millenials.


To the idiotic, greedy Baby Boomers:

Wow, I can't believe baby boomers have the gall to label anyone other than themselves the 'Entitlement Generation'. Ever heard of social security, medicare? These 'entitlement programs' won't be around for us when we retire. We're paying 15% of our income into a system that will be bankrupt by the time most of us get to retirement age (I'm 31). On top of that, you're using our regular income taxes (another 20-30% of our income to cover the current shortfalls). WE'RE the generation that is going to be PAYING for all of your prescription drugs, retirement checks, and doctors' visits. And guess what? None of us expect that those same benefits will be there when we reach your age. WE'RE going to have to clean this mess up that you're leaving in place.

All of the corporate scandal that is so prevalent these days is committed by the boomers. Enron, Arthur Anderson, WordCom, credit market crisis, savings and loan scandals, sub-prime mortgage scandals, etc... ALL committed by baby boomers out of GREED. I've seen it first hand and so have others my age. We're not stupid.

Call us disloyal. WE ARE. Why should we be loyal? Loyal to what? Loyal to who? Large companies that laid our parents off by the hundreds of thousands while we were growing up? Baby boomer execs who make BILLIONS of dollars? Screw you. America will never again see the day when most workers can start with one company and work there their entire career, so don't preach to us about loyalty when our hard work and efforts are cast aside when shareholders want another penny of profit.

You think that we feel entitled? Look at your own generation. At every turn, our generation is being molested, nickeled and dimed by large corporations. Income taxes, gas taxes, alcohol taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, car taxes. The list goes on and on, whitling down our pay until we expect you to pay us more just so we can pay the rent. You want someone to buy your 2,000 square foot house at 5x the price you paid for it, yet you won't pay our generation enough to buy it. Talk about expecting something for NOTHING. Screw you.

Big banks that milk you with fees for depositing your money with them, keeping your deposits for themselves for a few days while they earn interest on our money.

Marketing campaigns assault us at every turn. We're inundated with advertisements. I'm surprised your greasy, greedy generation hasn't started putting full page ads in the middle of text books these days.

And speaking of greasy, the political leaders your generation has left us are the scum of the earth filfth. Our votes don't count. All that counts is money. The government no longer enacts legislation because it's good for the country - they enact legislation because it makes someone, somewhere, some money.

Not to talk about loyalty again, but why should we be loyal to any baby-boomer company when the baby boomers will demand an educated workforce, and then hire out Indians to replace our jobs and lie to the country claiming that there's a lack of skilled workers. Screw you.

Not only all of this, but our generation cannot afford to have one person in the family stay home and raise children. Your generation started that. So don't expect us to be loyal, obedient sweatshop workers when you let the babysitters and nurseries raise us.

Screw the baby boomers. I can't wait until they're all a bad memory.


Jeeze Justin - that's quite an attitude. But I actually agree with everything you say. And I'm 63. So go easy on me, OK.

Ralph Marks

I'm a 41 year old husband, father, and business owner. I own two businesses that pay me an income of $500,000 per year. I built these two healthcare businesses from the ground up. How did I do it? By going to college for seven years, getting a Master's degree in a specialized field--then by being loyal, frugal, hardworking, honest, fair, and by taking measured risks.

I employ 150 people. I have some great, young employees that are also hardworking, loyal, honest and fair. I have great respect for them and I'm working hard to give them the best that I can as an employer. I also employ other young professionals who fit the term 'entitlement generation' perfectly. They are whiny, sassy, ungrateful, shortcut-takers who don't have my respect and I'm not likely to go to bat for them in a pinch.

To all of you who fit the term 'entitlement generation':

Yes, you need to prove yourself over time. And no, you won't get all the perks of the hardworking, senior staff until you've earned it. All the education in the world means nothing if you aren't a hardworker. Business is mostly an ol' boys club (or 'ol girls club). Yes, there are some dynamic young entrepreneurs, but most business is run by people who have been around for a while. And experience almost always trumps education. So if you think you're really something because of all the A's you got in school, remember, it doesn't mean squat if you're a lazy whiner.

And you can blame all the woes in the world on the older generation, but--guess what? Every other generation can too. And that kind of pessimistic 'screw you' attitude won't get you any closer to the happiness that you want. So I say: grow up, get to work, be fair and honest even if others aren't always fair and honest to you. And if you do that, someday the right person (or people) are going to notice and they'll reward you for being something better than all the whiners around you.

David Utah

The notion that Denny and his co-students are working harder is not apparent in the spelling and grammar errors that litter his comments. Perhaps using the computer wisely would be useful - I believe grammar and spell-checkers are standard with most word processing programs these days. Of course, we 'old fossils' didn't have such luxuries at school and had to use pens, paper, and dictionaries, which meant we, too, had to work hard.

But - and here's the good news - in the real world of work, students WILL be judged on ability and merit. So as long as they actually focus on developing skills that are needed, there is little need to worry overly. When I get job applications, you can bet that those with egregious writing errors don't even make it into the 'maybe' pile. If someone can't take care to be accurate when they are competing for a job, I doubt they are going to be any better if I GIVE then the job.

Sigmund Ohio, USA

This seems to be the same generation battle that has been fought since the beginning of civilization. The older generation (in this case the baby-boomers) vs the younger generation (entitlement).

Through out history it has been the same battle. The younger generation is energetic, cocky and feel the need to show everyone how wonderful and intelligent they are while the older generation resents that. Remember - the older people of the generation were once the young upstarts and acted the same way.

I see it as a battle of attitudes rather than ability. The older guys want to be respected and looked up to while the young guys just can't wait to get to the top themselves. The older guys have learned alot through experience while the young guys don't realize how much there is still yet to learn and this type of education doesn't come overnight. A university education is meant to teach you how get started on that road and how to educate yourself while you are on the road to the top. It does not make you ready to be the top dog in your first few years.

Both generations have a responsibility to each other. The young generation have a responsibility to learn from the successes and failures of the older generation while the older generation has a responsibility to help the younger in the path to success.

The 'Entitlement Generation' will take over the country one day. The 'baby-boomers' will have to rely on their juniors to keep things rolling once they retire. Then the cycle will start again. The 'entitlements' will be the old guys and will have to learn how to deal with the 'new generation.'


I think the author used the correct adjective to describe the current generation in the first paragraph. Although all of it can be decribes in one short word--spoiled.

I have worked in my current position for less that a year. I started making 7.50/hr and was quickly promoted within 6 months to a supervisor. I now make 15 dollars an hour.

What is happening with this generation is exactly as the author describes. They are just plain lazy and spoiled. I am constantly working, I watch as these kids walk around talking to each other, not completing their tasks on time, talking on their cell phones, and just basically letting everyone else do the work. Then when they see everyone else get promotions and pay raises, they can't understand why they aren't getting the same. They become disgruntled and believe they are being treated unfairly.

They frequenly use excuses such as 'it was busy' or 'i wasn't feeling well'. This would be fine if it were a once in a while thing, but it is constant. They want something for nothing--spoiled to the core.

It wil be the crutch of our society eventually as these kids learn the hard way that this is a buisness. They can't ever hope to suceed with attitudes like this. And the person to blame is their parents.


Every previous generation needs to take a level of responsibility for the one that follows. They are the parents of that generation. The new generation simply takes its lead the previous one and adds its own stamp. At the heart of the entitlement generation is the generation before it.


We're spoiled, ignorant, can't spell, won't work hard, expect to rise to the top instantly, blah blah blah...

There are millions of us out there right now working extremely hard. My first 5 years out of college I averaged 60 hours a week working in public accounting. I was not made partner nor did I even remotely expect to be made partner. I was promoted to a senior position in the same tradition as accounting staff have been promoted for decades.

When I left public accounting and went to industry, the long hours did not stop. Only this time, the long hours were not expected of me, I did the work that needed to get done when others (older than me) were leaving at 5:00 every day.

I don't resent any of this. I have learned more working than I ever could have in college. I'm still not at the top, and I don't expect to be given anything. And I'm not alone.

My earlier post is now a bit dated, but to the scandals we can add the mortgage crisis, another product of the soulless baby boomer, golden parachute mentality. Get mine and get out. That's the rule rather than the exception at the large firms. And oddly enough, it's baby boomers bailing after having created trillions of dollars of damage to the economy.

Maybe I'm an odd duck. Maybe my friends are odd ducks and don't fit the stereotypes your generation seems so bent on saddling us with. Oops, I ended a sentence with a preposition... gasp!

Sue me.

Justin Texas

To David, from Utah,

With all due respect to you and your generation, you didn't leave mine much of a society to live in. Instead of being temp workers for the good ol' boys, I think we'd rather try to change this country for the better. You know, start from scratch.

I believe you all tried to do that, too, back in '68. Before you fell in love with money.

Jack US

All the responses from these young people prove the point of this article. It's all about you!! I'm raising 3 daughters right now to NOT be like your generation. If they want it..they earn IT! If they need it now and it can wait then they WAIT! They don't have the best of everything. My generation didn't screw up and leave yours with nothing. Yours takes so much they too took much and finally there was nothing left to give!


Baby Boomers call another generation the 'entitlement generation'? That's rich.

Ever noticed how the Baby Boomers lack a sense of family? It is as if empathy and the desire to invest in their kin has been replaced with entitlement and an insatiable need to satisfy their own hedonism and debauchery. They constantly talk about themselves and their 'problems' with money in front of those that are much less fortunate than they are. Most of them live in good homes, yet whine like the Babies they are in front of their own children despite the fact that those children can hardly afford rent and food. Even those of us that hold good degrees, have work experience, and graduated top of our classes in college barely scrape by; yet we pay plenty of taxes so that we can support the Babies entitlements and the entitlements they bestowed on others (anyone but their own posterity, whom they loathe). Robert Hare should write books on their generation, since it is filled with so many sociopaths.

The history of the Baby Boomers goes something like this: Their parents suffered through the depression and thus spoiled the Babies as children. They grew up and did drugs and slept with each other indiscriminately, yelled at Veterans, took advantage of the fact that the US represented a full half of the economy after WWII and was rich with resources, made tons of money, wasted that money, screwed over all of their children while enriching themselves, supported the creation of quotas in education and the labor market to screw their children more, stopped investing in the future, complained when entitlements like healthcare were even slightly extended to others, and tried to make housing unaffordable. Oh, and they probably drew up Wills to ensure that all their ill-gotten gains go to some corrupt charity organization in Africa or South-East Asia rather than back to the nation they raped and pillage or the children they abused.

This article is just one of many like it where Baby Boomers vent their hatred towards their own children. No one knows why the Baby generation hates their own children so much. Perhaps they are just confused (they thought they were the Babies, how could there be other babies?). Either way, their 60 year long temper tantrum will soon come to an end.