What a shocker: Another age-based workplace stereotype turns out to be overblown.

A common belief many people hold today is that Millenial and Gen Z workers are less loyal to employers than older generations are. They’re lazy, entitled, and constantly job-hopping.

Well, that perception doesn’t quite match the data. The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) recently released a report following four decades of tracking employee tenure trends. Among their key findings:

Over the past 40 (or nearly 40 years) years, the median tenure of all wage and salary workers ages 25 or older has stayed at approximately five years.”

Job-hopping isn’t a generational thing. It’s a worker thing. It’s something lots of people do regardless of age or generation. 

So why the animosity? Why are people of older generations sneering at their younger colleagues, accusing them of disloyalty? 

Coworkers of different ages

It may simply be a mix of media hype and “back in my day” syndrome. Everyone thinks everything about the time period in which they grew up was better than what’s happening today. Music was real. Kids respected their elders. The Simpsons was at peak hilarity.

Sure, that attitude makes for a fun Nirvana vs. Harry Styles debate. But it’s not a healthy mindset for the workplace. Quietly resenting your coworkers because of their age is a recipe for lower morale, and it does nothing to help your own performance.

And of course, this works both ways. Young workers need to drop the stereotypes of their older peers as well. Look to coworkers with more experience to share the knowledge they’ve amassed over the years. Some of their advice could prevent you from having to learn a lesson the hard way. 

As for Boomers and Gen Xers, be open-minded about your Millenial and Gen Z coworkers. Instead of labeling them as narcissistic, ask them for ideas on how their self-promotion skills can benefit your business. Instead of assuming they’re already searching for the next opportunity, figure out what they value most in a job setting. Maybe you can use that knowledge to help your business attract—and keep—top talent. 

Coworkers of different ages

Blanket statements about large groups of people are never a good thing, but somehow they’re acceptable when it comes to generations. That gets us nowhere. Instead, take opportunities to learn from people you wouldn’t otherwise associate with. You never know how sharing perspectives with someone far from your age might benefit both of you.