Already, the millennial generation is beginning to shape the workplace. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials form 25% of the today’s workforce, and by 2030, they will occupy 75%.
Millennials' attitudes towards work, their vast knowledge in technologies, and their strong career aspirations will determine the culture of the 21st century workplace. Therefore, this generation is not only different but also a very crucial engine that will steer the world economy in the coming decades.
A lot is said about these “digital natives,” but much of it is conjecture. Mostly, what is said about millennials is said through the biased lenses of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Employers need to shed this narrow thinking and separate the facts from myths about this demographic.
Here are the five most common employment myths about millennials you need to get right.
Myth 1: Millennials want constant acclamation.
Millennials are said to crave positive reinforcement and tend to think that everyone in the team “deserves a trophy.” However, a study by IBM showed that this is just a misconception. The study found that millennials value feedback and a fair manager who recognizes their accomplishments.
It is important to note that young people—of all generations—like to be congratulated on their small efforts or told they are a rock star, even when they may not be. But as we age, we start to gain better insight into ourselves and our performance. As such, it's wrong for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to demonize a habit which they too possessed when they were younger.
Myth 2: Millennials are not serious about their work.
According to a study of 90,000 American employees, millennials are the most competitive of the generations—including Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Unlike previous generations, millennials' upbringing and education focused on entrepreneurship, independence, and information-age thinking. They believe in working smarter rather than working harder. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers tend to subscribe to the old teaching, “look busy or get fired.” But for millennials, they would prefer to accomplish tasks quickly and proficiently, and then devote their time to something else.
Myth 3: Millennials are too informal and casual.
Parents and teachers raising millennials taught them to express themselves with confidence and to treat others as equals. This form of teaching has eliminated the strict, traditional hierarchy from their minds. To a millennial, it isn't a big deal to drop into their CEO's office for a chat or befriend him or her on Facebook.
To older generations, it may seem that millennials have no respect for authority or position, but this is simply a difference in mindset. Rather than a lack of respect, millennials consider it a matter of equality and comeraderie. Millennials are quick to embrace diversity and refuse to live within the boundaries of age, race, gender, or status. As a matter of fact, this is a reality we all need to embrace rather than fight.
Myth 4: Millennials live with their parents.
Lots of ridiculous stories and satirical cartoons have been floating around portraying millennials’ over-dependence on their “helicopter parents.” Some have even been said to drag their parents along to job interviews or have them negotiate their salaries with HR. While it is true that more young people are still living with their parents today than in the ‘60s, the margin is so small that it's hardly worth noting. According to Pew Research Center analysis, the figures today are at 36 percent compared to 32 percent in 1968. However, high unemployment rates due to the recent economic recessions have certainly contributed to this increase.
Myth 5: Millennials have unrealistic career goals and expectations.
IBM's Institute for Business Value conducted a recent study that found there are some major exaggerations when it comes to the differences between millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. The comparisons of behavioral patterns and desires among the generations actually revealed marginal differences in thinking and attitudes.
Millennials' desires include financial stability, inspirational leadership, promotions, clearly defined goals, and seniority. Don’t other generations desire the same?
Companies desiring to remain competitive in the future must change their views about millennials. Stubborn resistance to this pool of rising talent will eventually prove devastating for companies as older generations retire.
At JP Griffin Group we challenge conventional thinking and encourage employers to do the same. Contact us for more information about how to better engage and embrace the millennial generation in your workforce.