In my last blog of the Myth Busters series, we broke down the common misconceptions of continuous improvement and how making a culture shift to view CI as a flexible ideology can benefit organizations.

Today—the topic of discussion is, the soon to be the largest work force in the world, Millennials! There are several debates around who are classified into this category, but popular consensus has named individuals born between mid-1980s and 1996. Millennials have a bad reputation in today’s workplace. As a Millennial myself, I understand the frustration this demographic faces daily. Being generalized and labelled as spoiled, lazy, entitled narcissists has been nothing shy of destructive. Books such as Generation Me or Not Everyone Gets a Trophy definitely don’t help the image of the Millennial either. Though I will agree that there are a few “bad eggs” that throw their legs up on their desks and make senseless demands, not all Millennials are the same. Many workplaces have created an environment where Millennials are forced to feel embarrassed to be a part of the supposed “handout” generation.  Research shows that discussions around Millennials amongst leadership teams across organizations tends to be more negative than positive—this has got to change. 

One could argue that Millennials face age discrimination. According to the EEOC, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination “involves treating an applicant or employee less favorable because of his or her age”. This includes work situations in any aspect of employment such as hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, and any other term or condition. It is unlawful to make any offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s age. Though many believe that simple teasing or offhand comments aren’t very serious, it can lead to an unpleasant work environment.  The act that stemmed from this concern, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), only protects people who are aged 40 and above, but some states now have laws that protect younger workers from the same discrimination as they are seeing how this unfair treatment is affecting younger generations.

So why all this bad blood? We are now on the cusp of a magnificent societal change and being propelled further into a digital-centric environment. The rapid transformation is being feared by many and understandably, change has been overwhelming to grasp. This is unfortunately resulting in the bitterness between the people that got us here and the people who will carry the torch forward. The slowed transitioned of older staff into retirement has resulted in a culture clash vying for the same prosperity but conflicted over how to share the opportunity. Through this clash, many unfair stereotypes of Millennials have tarnished their reputation. Let’s take a look at the top 2 and dive into what’s really going on.

“Millennials are entitled”— As the years go by, every successive generation has encountered an entitlement problem. Throughout history, we’re able to see the hard work of the previous generation resulting in the prosperity of the next. Take a closer look at home. I’m positive the lives of your parents were significantly different from your grandparents. It’s a natural desire to want more for the next generation.

So that brings me to the point, do Millennials expect and want more? Definitely, but they are not solely responsible for the mindset. The convenience they have isn’t their fault and you can’t blame them for wanting more, just like how the previous generations wanted more. This notion of “wanting more” is actually what sparks creativity and has caused revolutions in several industries throughout history. Millennials are also blamed for never being satisfied with their jobs. The bottom line is, Millennials are not willing to settle for mediocre careers, but who should in the first place? You have one life to live and you are responsible for your own happiness. This generation is willing to work hard to find work they are passionate about and gain financial security, even if that means taking on a side-hustle to make ends meet.

What’s often forgotten is that Millennials are faced with an economic situation that no other generation has endured. The cost of living continues to rise while wages taper off. The safety nets, legislation, and social services previous generations had are no longer guaranteed for this generation. There are far too many unknowns in today’s society than there were a few decades ago. The Millennial ambition comes from ensuring they are financially secure while investing their careers into areas they are passionate about.

“Millennials are job hoppers”—  Do Millennials switch employers often? Yes. One LinkedIn survey indicates Millennials do more job-hopping than any other generation. But what’s surprising is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states Baby Boomers did just as much job-hopping in their respective 20s as millennials do these days.

With the economic transformation taking place in faster cycles, the need for organizations to constantly reinvent themselves to sustain is creating a challenging environment for all working generations. Specifically for Millennials, it has caused them to no longer see a long term path that lasts in one organization. The decade long notion is completely gone, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, recruitment professionals state that changing employers is actually a good thing and keeps your skills competitive, diverse, and adaptable in today’s workforce.  With older generations hanging around longer in the work place, younger workers are less likely to be promoted into the same roles held by tenured folk, even though they may be fully qualified. The option to wait it out is less appealing when there are similar or better opportunities knocking on your door.

Can you really fault someone for taking the leap to better their life, career, and gain new experiences? Put yourselves in their shoes, you might do the same. In addition to advancement opportunities, Millennials tend to switch employers due to diversity, flexibility, treatment, and social concerns. A recent Deloitte study claims that diversity and flexibility is the key to Millennial loyalty. Attracting and retaining Millennials begins not only with financial rewards but also providing their employees with a diverse and flexible workplace culture that resonates with them. Those that are unsatisfied with their pay, degrees of flexibility, and diversity often leave within 2 years.

The negative rhetoric around Millennials in today’s workplace has also caused them to flee corporations and opt for startups, companies run by Millennials themselves, or progressive organizations. Why would anyone want to stick around when they feel unwanted or feel like they have to face a daily battle to prove the stereotypes wrong? Lastly, Millennials want to work for employers that share the same sentiments for similar causes and beliefs. Millennials are not likely to stick around if they feel their employers or colleagues take part in unethical business practices or lack inclusivity/tolerance. Social activism is a large focus for the Millennial generation and they are likely to choose and stay with employers that shares similar beliefs.

Share To:

Jaisheela Setty

Post A Comment: