The word “Millennial” comes with a lot of baggage. When you Google ‘Millennial’, what comes back is an ever-expanding list of industries they’ve killed (golf, napkins, diamonds, department stores, TGI Fridays). They were dubbed the “Me Me Me Generation” by TIME. For many, Millennial has become synonymous with the word ‘entitlement’.
Is it possible that all the stereotypes about Millennials are true? Or they just that: stereotypes?
Here are four common myths about Millennials at work busted:
Myth #1: Millennials are teenagers.
The Millennial generation is anyone born between 1981 and 1994, which means that the youngest Millennials are 24 and the oldest Millennials are 37. Millennials aren’t teenagers and haven’t been for a long time. The narrative that Millennials are whippersnappers or young upstarts is flat out false. In fact, since Millennials make up more than half the workforce, chances are the majority of your coworkers are likely Millennials even if you don’t think of them as such.
The great news about this is that now Millennials at work not only bring that young fiery energy, social media know-how, and tech savvy to an organization, but also often bring more than a decade of work experience to the table. Millennials are the most experienced, tech-literate generation in the workplace right now.
Myth #2: Millennials are lazy.
A common narrative floating around is that because Millennials were given participation trophies as children that we expect the same treatment in the workplace. However, this is another myth about Millennials at work. Millennials are more likely to forgo using paid vacation time and fall into the “work martyrs” category 14% more often than other generations.
Millennials came of age during the most financially insecure time since the Great Depression. Financial insecurity might be driving the Millennial need to overwork. In fact, more than any other generation, Millennials cited fear that taking a vacation would make them seem replaceable, cost them a raise or promotion, and even losing their job as reasons why they leave vacation days on the table.
Millennials like to work and feel valued. Rest assured that a motivated, engaged Millennial can be an incredibly dedicated employee.
Myth #3: Millennials job hop.
The rules have changed. The narrative used to be that you got a good job out of college and worked your way up in an institution. That reality just doesn’t exist anymore. When the lifespan of a Fortune 500 company has dropped from 75 years to 15 years and falling, it doesn’t make sense to commit to a single organization.
Add to that that the cost of living continues to spiral upward while wages stay stagnant and it leads to a combination where Millennials need to leave an organization to see a significant pay increase. However, the fact is that employees in their 20’s leave organizations just as often as they did in the 1980’s. It’s not a generational difference, but a narrative one.#Millennials are interested in pursuing #Jobs that positively add to their lives. Click To Tweet
Another factor is that in the age of the Internet, Millennials (as well as every other generation), have more option for employment. Freelancing and the gig economy have offered new employment opportunities to the traditional 9-to-5.
Which leads us into our next Millennials at work myth.
Myth #4: Millennials are entitled.
Millennials are empowered. It might seem like a small word swap, but the difference is huge. “Entitled” telegraphs that Millennials don’t want to work for their promotions and raises, they expect everything to be handed to them, they’re ungrateful.
In fact, the opposite is true. Millennials are willing to work for a job that matters to them. They aren’t willing to settle. And with endless employment avenues, why should they? (In fact, why should anyone?) Millennials care about their paycheck, but they also care about more. Millennials at work want to feel connected. They want to make a difference. They want to change the world.
Taken from statista.com
This is powerful stuff. Giving Millennials the power to set courses for themselves often means they’ll set higher goals that you expect. They’ll stretch themselves. They want to succeed, but often can find it hard within traditional workplaces where the common refrain is, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Millennials are connected. They want to take notes on the subway on their commute to work and write reports in a coffee shop. Unless there is a physical need to be at a job, it’s hard to understand why they need to be in a cubicle when they can be on a beach doing the same job.
Millennials at Work, Millennials at Life
What does all of this mean? Millennials are a huge asset to your organization if you are willing to work with them. If you’re not sure where to start transforming your organization into a Millennial-friendly workplace, go to the source. Millennials will have ideas for you and often, they’ll be free or low cost to implement (hello, bring your dog to work day!).
The key takeaway here is that Millennials are interested in pursuing jobs that positively add to their lives. They want to grow and learn in their positions. They want opportunities and will pursue them, if necessary. Offer opportunities for growth, change, and advancement within your organization and you’re well on your way to an office full of engaged, proactive Millennial employees.
It’s time to turn these stereotypes on their heads and things for what they are. Millennials are a diverse generation currently spanning a huge variety of life experiences. Millennials are starting families, buying houses, launching businesses, and more. Some Millennials are been in the workforce for a few years while others have nearly two decades of experience under their belts. Painting every Millennials with the same broad brush is impossible.
At the end of the day, Millennials are individuals, just like every other generation. Evaluate your Millennial employees for what they bring to the table, and not what stereotypes exist.
Is there a Millennial at work myth we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments.