The Laziest Generation: Who Wastes More Time at Work – Millennials, Gen X, or Baby Boomers?

The debate has been raging for at least a decade. Who is the laziest generation? Do millennials really waste all their time on social media instead of working? Do Baby Boomers really have the best work ethic, or are they just high on their own supply? And what about Generation X, the “slacker” generation?

You’ve seen the articles, and you know the stereotypes. Millennials can barely respond to an email without snapping a selfie, and spend more time and effort Instagramming their lunch than they do on their jobs.

With both Baby Boomers and Generation X ganging up on their younger counterparts, it’s no wonder that they’ve earned a reputation as the laziest generation.

But is that reputation deserved?

Here are a few facts about our generational differences that may surprise you—including one that may settle the debate once and for all.

  1. Generation X Spends More Time On Social Media

One of the biggest stereotypes about Millennials is that they are constantly glued to their phones. However, a report released by Nielson in early 2017 made some surprising findings. Perhaps the biggest shock was that millennial adults aged 18-34 were less obsessed with social media than some of their peers.

The report showed that adults 35-49 (what most would consider Generation X) spent an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes on social media per week, while those aged 18-34 spent an average of 6 hours and 19 minutes. One less surprising finding was that Baby Boomers (adults aged 50 and over) spent the least amount of time on social media, clocking in an average of 4 hours and 9 minutes per week.

  1. Baby Boomers Were the Original “Me” Generation

Millennials are frequently labeled the “Me” Generation due to their apparent laziness, entitlement, and selfishness—mostly by Baby Boomers. But age might be affecting the memories of those Boomers, as they seem to have forgotten that they were given the same label way back in the 70s by their parents. In fact, pretty much every post-boomer generation has been dubbed the “Me” Generation at some point.

  1. Millennials Generally Stay With Their Employers Longer Than Generation X

Since they grew up with information overload via the internet, video games, smartphones, and streaming television, it’s no surprise that Millennials are generally considered to have short attention spans. While this might be true of the way they consume media, when it comes to jobs, it seems the cliché of the entitled, career-hopping Millennial with no job loyalty is not based in reality. According to a report released by the Obama White House, Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Generation X did at the same ages.

  1. Millennials Are Generally Pretty Happy With Their Jobs

Another stereotype about Millennials is that they are unhappy with their jobs, and think themselves above menial tasks and entry-level positions. Certainly, this stereotype goes hand in hand with the idea that Millennials are entitled and lazy—expecting that they can fast track their careers and achieve fat paychecks and high-ranking positions much more easily than their predecessors.

In fact, the opposite may be true. According to a paper by Journal of Business and Psychology, ”Millennials reported higher levels of overall company and job satisfaction, satisfaction with job security, recognition, and career development and advancement, but reported similar levels of satisfaction with pay and benefits and the work itself, and turnover intentions” when compared with Baby Boomers and Generation X.

  1. Despite All The Evidence To The Contrary, At Least One Generation Considers Millennials To Be The Laziest Generation…

And that generation is Millennials themselves!

According to a Pew Research report released in 2015, 59% of Millennials describe the members of their generation as self-absorbed, while 49% say they are wasteful and 43% describe them as greedy. The study found that Millennials were much more likely to attribute negative traits to their own generation than other generations.

The Jury’s Still Out

While Millennials may have anointed themselves as the laziest generation, the science is far from settled.


Some studies have found that there are differences in the work ethic of each generation, but there is contradictory evidence as to what these differences are, and what they mean. At least one study found that Baby Boomers do not have a stronger work ethic than their younger counterparts, though it does seem true that Generation X and Millennials are much more individualistic.

Whatever our differences, maybe we’d all be better off if we just quit our complaining and got back to work!

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