Today’s offices potentially span five full generations ranging from Generation Z to the Silent Generation. A coworker could just as easily be raised with a smart phone in hand as they could have used a typewriter at their first job. Some see differences between generational colleagues as an annoyance (“kids these days!”) and many rely on generational stereotypes as fact. Truth of that matter is that generational stereotypes have about as many holes in them as a piece of Swiss cheese. Current research questions the validity of generational stereotypes. This series uncovers top generational myths as a strategy to support a diverse and healthy employee population.
Next, we progress to a group whose eldest members reached adulthood in the year 2000: Millennials (also known as Generation Y). This cohort was born between 1981 and 1996. The top three myths of Millennials include:
They are the laziest generation at work. Millennials have been called the “trophy” generation with the implication that they receive accolades for just showing up. The impression this leaves in the workforce is that they are lacking motivation to go above and beyond, and may be comfortable phoning it in. The data doesn’t support this critical generalization! Most Millennials are inspired by big, hairy goals at work. In fact, 59% of Millennials reported that competition is “what gets them up in the morning.”
Millennial employees need life instructions on “adulting.” Children of the ‘80s and ‘90s were raised with a teacher, coach, or parent nearby to instruct or help them figure out a solution. For that reason, they often get labeled as incapable. This may lead you to believe that this generation is lacking smarts, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Close to 40% of adults aged 25 to 37 have a bachelor’s degree, a percentage that overshadows both Baby Boomers and Generation Y at this same point in their life. Millennials are more educated and more technology savvy than prior generations. One sign of their life skills aptitude? Check out their retirement accounts. Dave Ramsey, personal finance guru, summed it up like this: “Even though Millennials have had less 20 years to build their retirement wealth, they are not that far behind many of those who are closest to retirement.” Yes, they may ask a lot of questions, but don’t let this fool you.
They are job hoppers. They don’t commit to companies. They leave jobs at the drop of a hat. This tune may sound familiar because you have heard it before. A Pew Research study showed that when you freeze data for age, Generations X and Millennials had similar tenures at work. Workers in the first few decades of their career are more open to looking for new opportunities to explore new jobs and learn. The data show that this sentiment is more closely aligned with a stage in life that all generations have experienced. So, let’s give Millennials a break here. Just because they don’t intend to stick around at one company to receive a glass retirement plaque doesn’t mean they have any less value than other generations.
Despite what you may have heard, Millennials are hard workers with the know-how to quickly pick up new knowledge or skills. They value stability just as much, or more, than prior generations.
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