Inter generational verbal warfare has always struck me as a particularly dumb idea and this week an Astralian CEO of a multinational company created a huge amount of damage by deciding to stick the boot in to millennials.

Muffin Break general manager,  Natalie Brennan gave her opinions on the ‘lack of drive’ from those born just before and after 2000, who she considers ‘entitled’. All of this she bases on the decline in numbers of young people looking to work for her company for free. “There’s just nobody walking in my door asking for an internship, work experience or unpaid work, nobody,” Brennan says. “You don’t see it anymore. Before that people would be knocking on your door all the time, you couldn’t keep up with how many people wanted to be working. In fact I’d run programs because there were so many coming in.”

She goes on to say that she thinks the reasons for this are a sense of entitlement created from growing up on social media and unreasonable expectations about rates of pay and work conditions. It’s no huge surprise that her views have been shared by our very own pop vox mouthpiece, Mike Hosking.

“It benefits nobody to waste time on blame and bitterness for what other generations had and what current generations have.”

Every generation faces its own challenges and social and cultural conditions. Our parents and their parents and their parents before them lived in times so different from today as to be almost unrecognisable. War, depression, conflict, and privation were the norm for many generations not so long ago – as were full employment, free tertiary education, and an inviting housing market, not too many years ago either. It benefits nobody to waste time on blame and bitterness for what other generations had and what current generations have.

Like many, I am a parent to children who fit into the parameters of what is defined as the Millennial Generation. I am apparently categorised as being a member of Generation X. My parents are supposedly Baby Boomers, my grandparents a part of the Great Generation. Those descriptors are often used to lump millions of people together as if they can all be categorised by the same experiences, outlooks, and aspirations. Personally I think it is lazy. It’s as useful as and judging people by their star signs.

“Without doubt workers need too prove that they are a fit for the employment they seek and trial periods are a standard component of most trades and vocations.”

I don’t think anyone wants to work for free anymore, whatever their age and I think it’s disingenuous and incredibly inaccurate to say that those who choose not to do so are ‘entitled’ or have ‘unrealistic expectations’. After all, work is nothing more than the exchange of labour for monetary compensation. All work should be paid, no matter what is, or at what stage a worker is at.

Without doubt, workers need too prove that they are a fit for the employment they seek and trial periods are a standard component of most trades and vocations. Not everyone is as their CV or references attest. But it is a bit much to decide that not working for a period without being paid for it, qualifies anyone as entitled.

“It’s true that younger people have grown up with social media, and as I didn’t, I actually feel sorry for them.”

We all share some measure of blame for how we have allowed our smart phones or social media alter our lives. It still shocks me how anxious I, and others become when we can’t locate our phones. I would love to be able to go back to a mobile phone that was as the name describes, a phone that I can carry anywhere. Unfortunately I, like billions around the world, rely on my mobile phone far more than I would like. I don’t for a second imagine that millennials rely on them, or even use them more than other age groups.

It’s true that younger people have grown up with social media, and as I didn’t, I actually feel sorry for them. Social media brings everything into very sharp focus. Peer pressure is heightened and can be all consuming. The one heartening thing is the continual decline of platforms like Facebook with younger people.

‘There is no value at all in creating and perpetuating inter-generational conflict. There’s much bigger fish to fry, as the saying goes.”

Natalie Brennan has subsequently apologised for her generational analysis, no doubt encouraged to so by those in her company who had gauged the damage of her words to their brand. “Every day for the last 25 years I’ve worked with young people who are motivated, passionate and hardworking. This is as true today as it was when I started my career. I don’t expect anyone to work unpaid and Foodco Group policy is, and has always been, that all employees including interns, employed either directly or through our brands are paid according to relevant awards.”

She can be commended for that at least, even though her apology attempts to gloss over much of what she originally said. There is no value at all in creating and perpetuating inter-generational conflict. There’s much bigger fish to fry, as the saying goes.