Narcissistic. Disloyal. Spoiled. Lazy. I have heard these words used countless times to describe millennials (those born between 1980 to the early 2000s). As a millennial myself, I often laugh at these assumptions. Couldn’t some of the same words be used to describe…well, just about anyone—regardless of age? This week, I have decided to debunk a few myths I have heard throughout the years.
- “They’ll get bored. They won’t stick around.” There’s a common assumption that millennials (often called Gen Ys) are constantly seeking new opportunities. While this thought may be true, it does not necessarily mean that Gen Ys are job hoppers. A recent study published by Bentley University reveals that 80% of millennials wish to work for less than 4 companies in their lifetime. Another study created by IBM indicates that 47% of Gen Xs, and an equal amount (42%) of millennials and baby boomers would leave their job for an increase in pay. So, it’s not necessarily just Gen Ys that are on the hunt for new opportunities.
- “They don’t communicate outside of text message.” Again, not true. The same study created by Bentley University shows that 51% of millennials prefer face-to-face interaction with their coworkers compared to 19% who prefer email, followed by a mere 14% who prefer texting. While it’s true that millennials are big into texting, most understand that it’s not an appropriate form of communication in the workplace.
- “They’re greedy.” Wrong! It’s a common misconception that Gen Ys spend all their money on stuff. Research conducted by Eventbrite indicates that 78% of millennial consumers value and spend money on experiences. Millennials are no longer focused on having the newest, coolest, most expensive gadgets. Instead, they choose to spend their time and income on instances where they can create memories; sixty-nine percent of respondents stated that experiences allow them to create and capture memories and share moments with those they cherish.
- “Paying them more will make them stay.” Money does not “make the world go ‘round” for Generation Y. Millennials actually crave flexibility in their careers…and this means that many will accept pay cuts or pass up a promotion in order to better manage their work-life balance. Seventy-seven percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Bentley University stated that they feel they would be more productive with a flexible schedule instead of a regular 9-5 job…so why not set them up for success and allow them the flexibility they desire?
- “They’re easily distracted and not productive.” With constant emails coming through, impromptu meetings, social media, and “water cooler talks” it’s easy for anyone to get distracted in their workday. Assuming Gen Y is not at all productive is a little silly. A study completed by Ernst & Young concluded that 47% of millennial managers are actually working longer hours (40+) than their fellow baby boomer and Gen X coworkers, and 89% of millennials admit to checking and replying to their work emails after work. Most millennials I know are actively trying to prove themselves in the workplace and thus work harder.
- “They require constant attention and hand-holding.” False. Most millennials appreciate some sort of tangible outline that they can read over before starting a new project or task. When something is unclear, they will ask questions or perform their own research. While they don’t require continual guidance, this generation appreciates clear and timely feedback…which is not necessarily a bad thing. This shows that they want to learn from their efforts and continuously strive for improvement.
With millennials expected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, you cannot avoid them. Change your mindset. Go out of your way to get to know and hire individuals in this generation. They’re optimistic, creative, innovative, and hard working. Most are extremely grateful and eager to learn. Who knows? Maybe you can learn a thing or two from them!