There’s no Participation Trophy for Showing up to Work

Participation trophies for the millennials, entitled Boomers and everything in between (don’t forget us Gen Xers!)


Yes, you need to show up. It’s called work. And that’s quite frankly, WHY the companies pay you. To show up! Sheesh.

No, you don’t get a pass because you are a millennial or Gen Z (who probably is more of the problem). Or don’t like an office environment. Or think you should be promoted every six months for doing your job.

I’m sorry, that’s not how it works. And if it did, it would ultimately devalue the actual promotion process and hard work and successful performers.

So yes, you need to show up.  And it needs to be for longer than a year. Because honestly, what the hell do you think you can accomplish in 6-9 months? Nothing, that’s what. You’ve just learned your job by then. And you don’t deserve a trophy for that either.

So show up for the day (not just 4 hours). Put your big boy pants on and deal with the grind. Because becoming an influencer, youtube star or Instagram famous is about as likely as getting hit by lightning. Or you are eaten by a shark.

And don’t get me wrong, I’d rather work from home too and have the freedom we all desire. But until the Boomer generation leaves (and it may be awhile) we’re all stuck here. Despite all the evidence proving employees are happier and more productive otherwise.


 Baby Boomers

Oh, my favorite – the Baby Boomers. Yes, I know your generation walked 85 miles to school one way, up hill and in the snow. Yes, I know you’ve been at the same company for over 25 years.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure how you still can show up… day after day after day and force everyone else to do the same (*cue* crappy corporate cultures). And yet you expect $20k roundtrip flights to Europe; Hotel stays more than $500/night, all just because you put in your time.

But guess what, that doesn’t make sense either!

If the company isn’t doing well, guess what – neither should you. You are the generation that decided CEO’s should be paid more than 271 times that of an average employee (over 940% since 1978), and thus creating an enormous wage gap.

And now you’re staying in the workforce even later due to all the issues your generation created.  But quit milking the system and go. Otherwise, the Millenials and Gen Z won’t be paying off their debt; they’ll be pushing you off a bridge to try and close the gap so they can eat more than Ramen Noodles next week.

Generation X

Does anyone know we are here? How about us Xennials playing the Oregon Trail? The ones on the cusp of Generation X (Late 70’s) and Early Millennials (Early 80’s) that don’t fit the mold of any generation. Corporate America has looked over us too.

We are the generation that can be easily called the “middle child.” Gen X now accounts for 51 percent of leadership roles globally. With an average of 20 years of workplace experience, they are primed to assume nearly all top executive roles quickly.

We may be those who are torn between seeing the ambitions of Millenials/Gen Z, and the stability of Gen X. We’ve got the experience and tech-savvy, but we’ve not taken out those at the top yet.  Just like a middle child, we’re stuck in between it all.

Early Gen X –  that is, the late ’60s and the ’70s – typically have been closer to that of the baby boomers.  Not only have they been in a company for a while, they rarely have switched jobs.  But for us at the other end of the spectrum were the last of the chosen few who could get a bachelor’s degree without having our parents take out three mortgages on their houses.

But we aren’t perfect, either. Being stuck between the two generations lets us be the worst of both worlds. We will stay with a company, but once it nears 5-10 years, you can rest assured we’re looking for new opportunities. But we’ve also done our time, so we feel like we should have our seat at the table and are entitled to more than the job jumpers.



However, according to Universum Global’s Generations series 2017 study, we’re more alike than we are different:

There's no Participation Trophy for Showing up to Work 1

If we are more alike then we are different, it’s time to bridge the gap between generations. Time to put the participation trophies in the closet.

I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of it too.  I see some of the younger generation job hopping like it’s a favorite past time, and it drives me bonkers.  I see some of the older generation feeling entitled and it makes my blood boil.

But at the end of the day, if we continue to separate ourselves at the same company, it will only make things worse. So is there a way to get rid of these preconceived notions and build a real team? A team that celebrates our differences and highlights the good, instead of focusing on the bad? I think so.

Let’s Hold Hands and Sing Kum-ba-ya

Kidding. I’m not that touchy-feely of a person. But, I do think it’s time to focus on the positives. You don’t put a team together based on weakness, and you do so for strengths.  And you leverage them to make the best team that can push you into the future.

So here is my proposal: Let’s all call a truce and get rid of branding generations, and instead focus on people and their strengths. I don’t know when the next generation starts, but how about we don’t name them. And just in general, quit being biased assholes if we can help it.

All of this branding hurts us more than it helps us. You CAN get around without calling each other names. It really isn’t that hard to have respect and integrity. So instead of holding hands and signing kum-ba-ya, let’s all go out for a drink and celebrate our differences. You might just find you have more in common thn you think. Cheers!

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One thought on “There’s no Participation Trophy for Showing up to Work

  1. Definitely a faulty concept. Beyond how participation trophies influence performance and achievement later on in life there are other considerations.

    Guilt would be one of the more oblique considerations. Anyone with a conscience feels guilt when they obtain something they didn’t earn. That can run the gambit from verbal praises to promotes, etc. Kids are no different. Even if it is at a deeper subconscious level it racks children with guilt. Children much like adults have internalized our unwritten norms, values , and virtues. While it might be fun to be a winner for a moment if it isn’t substantial true the high is short lived. The facts of reality set in and joy is rapidly fleeting. Most things that are contrived and insincere are ethereal. Therefore, are short lived and paired with a stifling crash.

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