They're overtaking our higher education institutions. They're lurking in the cubicle right next to your own. They're poisoning the Internet one social media selfie at a time. They're "lazy, entitled, and narcissistic". Run, don't walk... from the millennial generation!
Wait, hold the phone. That's me you're talking about! In fact, according to Pew Research Center, millennials are now the largest generation in the American workforce as of this year. Yet despite the prevalence of millennial working professionals, businesses still have a difficult time hiring members from this youngest generation. And millennials just can't seem to shake their bad reputation!
But I promise there is no need to hide under the covers or run for the hills. Here's the truth behind some of the eerie Gen Y myths whispered around the office water cooler.
1. Millennials are spoiled and lazy
the most persistent and sigh-inducing stereotype about millennials is that we
are spoiled and lazy. While we may have grown up in the era of showering
parental attention and T-ball participation trophies, our can-do attitude doesn't automatically equate to
self-entitlement. In fact, it gives us confidence to tackle challenges head on.
Gone are the days of finding a career job right out of high school - the new benchmark for professional entry-level jobs is now a bachelor's degree. With an influx of qualified applicants, competition for jobs is at an all-time high. According to the Talent Equation study, the past five years has seen a 10% spike in the number of undergraduates applying for customer service and sales roles, unable to secure a job in their field of study. Nearly 1.5 million more fight for coveted internships each year in the US alone, trying to break into their field post-graduation. The zinger, nearly half of these are unpaid.
Through the shear battle to even enter the workforce, millennials have proven our drive to work hard and succeed ‒ and we're ready to bring the same persistence and drive to achieve success in the workplace.
2. Millennials care more about fun than work
Another common myth is that millennials are not willing to put in the time at work. False! What do we actually want? A healthy work-life balance and more flexibility!
As millennials, we've spent our entire lives connecting with our friends and family with our mobile phones and social media. To us, communicating and collaborating with colleagues virtually is a natural progression. Millennials want flexible work schedules that allow employees to work remotely, connecting with colleagues via instant messenger or through calls from their computers, and conducting meetings virtually. Offering flexibility is a great way to keep millennial employees engaged and happy.
Not to mention, in our modern globalized business world, having this type of virtual flexibility just makes good business sense!
3. Millennials have no loyalty
There is a widely-accepted narrative that millennials have no loyalty and are prone to job-hop at the first opportunity that presents itself. This simply isn't true. We've already discussed how millennials thirst for a work-life balance and more flexibility. Organizations that understand and embrace this have a much easier time retaining millennial employees.
Besides, shorter tenures are part of a growing trend across the entire workforce, not just millennials. In fact, almost a third of the workforce from all demographics, have left a position before reaching the two-year mark.
It's also interesting to note, according to The Council of Economic Advisers (i.e. the American government), Gen Y actually stays with employers longer than Gen Xers did at the same ages.
4. Millennials are technology obsessed
With the dawn of the digital age, technology is continually transforming the way we do business. Gone are the days of board rooms and whiteboards, replaced with screen sharing, virtual teams, and documents edited simultaneously by multiple people all over the world. Embracing the mobile workplace is becoming increasingly essential to remaining competitive in the global marketplace.
Good news. Us "tech-obsessed" millennials grew up immersed in this digital world. Basic computer literacy has been essential for us to survive! Millennials bring fresh ideas, tech skills, and new ways to do business ‒ which can help establish a competitive advantage for your organization.
What about our pesky social media addictions? Yes, social media tends to be a large part of how millennials spend our time. But interestingly enough, according to Fortune, it is millennials ‒ not Generation X or Baby Boomers ‒ who are most likely to firmly separate our personal lives from our professional ones.
5. Millennials can't do anything without getting a pat on the back
I'm going to hand this one over to a fellow millennial colleague of mine, Chris Edwards. When asked what good leadership meant to him, Chris replied:
"Someone who recognizes and respects my desire to do something where I'm making a difference; gives me opportunity to prove myself and develop in my career. I want someone who will treat me fairly, give me feedback when I want it, and recognize me when I deserve it. It's not that I'm asking for much!"
aren't looking for a boss who will pat us
on the back. We're looking for a boss who is fair,
shares information and feedback, and helps us set effective goals and develop
in our careers. Personally, I think this is the kind of manager everyone
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree
Now that we've busted all these millennial myths, can I let you in on a little secret? Millennials are not that fundamentally different from each generation before us. We have the same career aspirations as Gen X and Baby Boomers. We want a family, financial security and seniority just as much as the next person.
I promise, underneath our smart phones, complex Starbucks orders, and inexplicable fascination with the Kardashians, we big, bad millennials are really harmless.