The Millennial Worker: Common Stereotypes Debunked

Millennials: the largest demographic of employees in the U.S. labor force. A unique breed in terms of employment preferences and trends, millennials are an important population for hiring managers to understand. They’ve recently received bad publicity for job-hopping, a tendency that wastes precious time and resources for any HR department. However, the most recent data on this growing population suggests millennial workers may not be so different from Gen Xers as initially thought.

According to the Pew Research Center, “Millennial workers, those ages 18 to 35, are just as likely to stick with their employers as their older counterparts in Generation X were when they were young adults.” The question becomes: why then are millennials targeted as an aloof demographic of workers ready to leave any company at their whim? Here are a few common stereotypes debunked:

1. “Millennials are entitled” One of the most notorious categorizations of millennials is that they are entitled. It’s hard for them not to be considering the fact that millennials have been granted the most privilege of any other generation in terms of access to higher education and technology. Those 18 to 35 years-old are more educated than any other generation before them. And there is much more that comes along with a degree than a cap and gown. A college education equips millennials with critical thinking skills that open up their realm of what is possible in the real world. When you partner this with the abundance of “me-based” technology millennials are accustomed to, a noticeable pattern emerges. Whether it be FitBit’s used to track personal fitness data or Instagram selfies traded as the new form of social currency, millennials are focused on themselves. However, it’s not just that this generation believes any and everything should be given to them; it’s that this generation believes any and everything should be given to everyone. And this mentality is not a bad one to have in the workplace. Millennials use the luxuries of their advanced education and technology to develop bold ideas that can make the world (and your business) a better place for all, themselves included.

2. “Millennials don’t want to work” Let’s be honest, no, millennials probably don’t want to work. Does anyone really want to work? I’m sure if any of us had the chance to travel for the rest of our lives with loved ones, we’d take that option hands down. Nonetheless, millennials do have more student debt than any other U.S. age demographic. Furthermore, they are often dubbed “the boomerang generation” for their inability to move out of their parents’ homes; for good, that is. So, with only six months to prepare for repayment following graduation and parents anxiously awaiting their departure from the basement, millennials have a valid and pressing need to get to work. This social trend offers insight into what drives many millennials to find a job and maintain long-term employment, despite not having as many of the obvious familial responsibilities to finance as Gen Xers had. The motivation many millennials have to be free from their student debt (and parents) as soon as possible is a good reason to rethink their willingness to work hard and keep a position at your company for years to come.

3. “Millennials are lazy” Millennials grew up in a time where content was mostly digital. This means that for them, daily tasks have always been relatively easy. Millennials typed their papers in a fraction of the time it took us to write ours out by hand and prefer to send brief text messages as opposed to spending time talking on the phone. With these examples in mind, I could easily fall into the trap of the common misconception that millennials are lazy. But then I paused to ask myself, is that really a bad thing? Think about it. If millennials are constantly looking for the most rapid and seamless way to complete a task set before them, won’t that translate well into a fast-paced work environment like ours? In fact, the ease with which millennials prefer to get through their day-to-day operations makes them more, perhaps even most, equipped to find the fastest and easiest solution to workplace problems.

People can choose to say whatever they like about the millennial workforce, but the data does not lie. Millennials are an expanding demographic that aren’t going anywhere and have a multitude of reasons to get to work, and stay there. Instead of stereotyping the next generation as a potential liability that will indefinitely hop away from our businesses, we should listen to the social trends top researchers are finding. Let’s seize the opportunity to learn from a group that inherently conducts business in innovative ways. Let’s utilize millennials’ fast-paced digital talents. Let’s learn from their progressive vision to do things differently. It may threaten tradition, but adding millennials to the team can ultimately take a company to new levels if it’s open enough to listen.

Best of luck,

Mike Miner
Owner at Twin City Staffing