They’re entitled, narcissistic and need lots of hand-holding. That is, if you believe everything that’s written about them.Can this much maligned generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) really be that bad? Haven’t they simply adapted to the world they inherited? Let’s take a look at a few common perceptions and try to separate fact from fiction:
Perception 1: They’re lazy
Put this down to a misunderstanding about what constitutes hard work. Millennials believe in working smarter, not harder. So if there’s an app that will halve their work, they will use it. The same with an extra line of code. Millennials will seek time-saving solutions for problematic tasks. For example, they would rather learn by watching a tutorial video than have to slog through an entire manual. Similarly, in our hypermobile world, they don’t always consider it necessary to be at the office to get work done. Think of them as efficient, not work-shy.
Perception 2: They’re digital addicts
This one is definitely true. Millennials love digital technology, specifically their smartphones. A recent study found that the average Millennial checked his/ her phone 85 times per day, which amounts to a whopping five hours per day. They use it to consume media, to shop, and at work. Technology is such an integral part of their lives that 42 per cent of Millennials surveyed would leave a job if the digital tools on offer weren’t up to scratch.
Perception 3: They’re disloyal
There is some evidence that Millennials job-hop more than other generations. For example, this Deloitte survey found that 76 per cent of South African Millennials polled plan to leave their current jobs within the next five years. But it’s no coincidence that they are also the least engaged generation at work. Millennials arrive at new jobs with high expectations of career development. If their needs are unmet, they will swiftly cut their losses and move on. They understand that a job for life is no longer a realistic prospect.
Perception 4: They don’t respect authority
A commonly held perception of Millennials is that they are disrespectful. Having grown up in the egalitarian world of social media, they aren’t big fans of strong vertical hierarchies. This can put them in conflict with managers who expect more deference from junior employees. But what Millennials really don’t like is rigid bureaucracy just for the sake of it – it doesn’t make sense in today’s agile world.
Perception 5: They’re arrogant
Millennials are confident about expressing their ideas. They want their opinions to matter. This is sometimes interpreted as arrogance. But surely it’s not a negative quality to be eager to contribute at work; they are idealistic and they want to make a difference.
Millennials will soon be the majority of your workforce. The good news is that they don’t deserve all the bad press they get. Consider them as catalysts that will transform the workplace for the good of all your employees. After all, who better to lead the way into the technology-driven future we are heading into?
Andrews, S., Ellis, D., Shaw, H., & Piwek, L. (2015). Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use. PLOS ONE, 10(10), e0139004. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0139004
Are our workplaces smart enough? (2016). Retrieved 12 September 2016, from http://futurereadyworkforce.dell.com/the-new-workforce-9am-to/
Rigoni, B. & Nelson, B. (2016). Many Millennials Are Job-Hoppers — But Not All. Retrieved 13 September 2016, from http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/194204/millennials-job-hoppers-not.aspx
The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning over the next generation of leaders. (2016). Retrieved 9 September 2016, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-millenial-survey-2016-exec-summary.pdfMillennials make poor employees