5 Common Millennial Misconceptions

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Don’t Let Myths Stop You from Mastering Your Millennial Workforce.

Millennials are rising up the ranks at work, replacing boomers and Gen X’ers in the management structures and beginning to have more influence over business decisions. It’s important to acknowledge the impact they’re having on today’s changing workplace, but if the buzz is to be believed, they’re technology addicted, commitment-phobes, with an extreme sense of entitlement and a desire to be constantly rewarded.

So what is the truth? Should you believe the buzz? Millennials are digital natives, who will bring vital value to a constantly digitising work-environment. But in many ways, they are a lot like their older and younger colleagues.

Myth 1: Millennials are addicted to technology and can’t interact face-to-face.

Are Millennials permanently attached to their phones? Honestly, that seems like a little bit of a stretch. Today’s phones have more memory and functional flexibility than the first laptops. Would we criticise boomers for spending too much time at work on their laptops?  In fact it turns out that Millennials much prefer to speak to people in person, especially in the workplace. That’s right - face to face. Not Snapchat, Whatsapp or Twitter, just old fashioned tech free face to face. Although Millennials do spend much of their free time on social media and instant messaging, they find it much easier to communicate about important matters via the medium of speech.

Myth 2: Millennials are prolific job hoppers.

The job for life is a mythical thing to most Millennials. Perhaps they just have higher expectations of the company they work for. The rules have changed. It’s no longer the case that you have to find work straight out of school or university and work your way up in the organisation. There is more choice than ever, and with the lifespan of many large companies shrinking consistently, it just doesn’t make financial sense to put all your eggs in one basket. Many of the jobs advertised today didn’t exist 10-15 years ago - Zumba Instructor, Big Data Architect, Cloud Services Specialist, Vlogger, iOS developer & drone operator to name a few.

However, the fact is that employees in their 20’s leave organisations just as often as they did in the 1980’s. It is true that many young workers are new to their job, but they are also new to the workforce as a whole. With the number of university educated workers rising, it makes sense that far fewer teenagers are entering the workforce, and instead start their careers in their 20’s.

Myth 3: Millennials want a trophy for just turning up.

A common myth floating around is that because Millennials were given participation trophies as children they expect the same treatment in the workplace. However, this is simply not true. Millennials are actually more likely not to use their vacation time, and they are often referred to as ‘work martyrs’.

25% of millennials admitted to feeling nervous when booking their holiday, as opposed to only 14% of Gen X’ers and 6% of Boomers. For many this was down to the fear that it would make them seem replaceable, cost them a raise or promotion, and even lose them their job. But ultimately, Millennials enjoy being at work and feeling valued. If they are properly motivated and engaged, they can be one of the most innovative members of the workforce.

Myth 4: Millennials are entitled.

It’s easy to mistakenly view someone who knows what they want, and are determined to achieve it, as being entitled. This is exactly the case with Millennials. Many are willing to work their hardest to attain promotions or the perks that matter to them and they simply aren’t willing to settle. And with far more job prospects than ever before, why should they? Why would anyone?

Obviously, Millennials do care about their pay-cheque, they were raised during a recession and saw the effects that it had on their families (and themselves in some cases), but they also care about less monetary based perks. With retirement moving further and further away many are more focussed on their quality of life today rather than planning for retirement. Millennials want to feel connected, that they are making a difference, that they have control over their own work life, some of them even want to change the world.

Myth 5: Millennials can’t make a decision without first asking everyone’s opinion.

In actual fact, Millennials are no more or less likely than anyone else to ask for advice on key decisions. While it is true that more than half of all Millennial workers say they make better business decisions when a variety of people provide input, nearly two-thirds of Gen X employees say the same.

However, it is true that more than half of Millennials also believe, that their leaders are most qualified to make business decisions. This may be where the myth stems from, as Baby Boomers, by contrast, feel far less compelled to include others and are less convinced that their boss knows best.

Make the most of your millennials

How well are you currently managing your millennials? Now that these myths have been busted, do your staff engagement policies need a revamp? Check out our benefits audit checklist here to figure out how to update your benefits to better suit the needs of your millennial workforce.  Or check out more common misconceptions about the other generations in your current multi-generational workforce.

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