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Author's profile photo Jonathan Becher

A Multitude of Myths About Millennials

/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/millen_346287.jpgIf I was a millennial, I would be annoyed with popular media.

Whether they are called Millennials, Digital Natives, or Generation Y, people under the age of 30 are typically portrayed as having unrealistically high expectations for their career and over-inflated sense of their abilities.  They are lazy, lack emotional intelligence, and don’t take criticism well. But they can be easily won over by the latest gadget.

These generalizations make for amusing reading but they aren’t very useful to a Gen X manager trying to recruit more Millennials into the workplace. After a fair amount of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that just about everything we’re told about Gen Y isn’t true.  To borrow a phrase I came across, Millennials are misunderstood, misinterpreted and misinformed.

I’m a big fan of myth busting and found two great articles that help dispel myths about millenials. Both Strategy+Business and MonsterThinking encourage employers to “forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employees.” Here are their top myths about millenials and a dose of reality:

Myth: Millennials don’t want to be told what to do.
Reality: Millennials are more willing to defer to authority than either baby boomers or Gen Xers.

Myth: Millennials lack organizational loyalty.
Reality:  Young people of every generation change jobs more frequently than older people.

Myth: Millennials aren’t interested in their work.
Reality: It isn’t that Millennials aren’t motivated; it’s that they’re not motivated to do boring work.

Myth: Millennials are motivated by perks and high pay.
Reality: Research shows no relationship between a person’s generation and whether he or she is motivated by perks and high pay.

Myth: Millennials want more work–life balance.
Reality: Millennials and Gen Xers agree at about the same level that the demands of their work interfere with their personal lives.

Myth: Millennials are apathetic.
Reality: Millennial’s attention tends to wander quickly which means they appear bored to other generations. In addition, Millennials value service and respect more than money and status.

Myth: Millennials have trouble finding jobs.
Reality: Millennials have trouble networking, relying too much on automated skill matching services rather than interpersonal skills.

Myth: Millennials think they’re smarter than you were at their age.
Reality: Millennials can be smarter because they have easier access to information to make better decisions. As I’ve written before, their memories are cloudy.

So what does this all mean?

I’d be foolish to generalize how to deal with millennials just like you’d be foolish to believe the standard myths. There is one thing I know for certain: If you create an environment that listens to your employees and values their contributions, you can attract candidates from any generation.

Follow me on twitter @jbecher.

This blog was originally posted on Manage By Walking Around.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Jonathan,

      I really enjoyed reading your article! Thank you so much for busting the myths and having a different opinion about us.

      Popular media does make millennials sound more like “aliens”, portraying the abstract image of a lost in digital world generation. Moreover, after all these talks about us, together with my own observation about my generation I decided to ask my peers what we really think we are and how we do things differently, that makes other generation look at us and wonder: why we are such a mystery.

      So here are the results:

      We are more globalized than any other generation, which makes us look at the world without borders; we are a blend of cultures and we are willing to explore the world and other cultures even more; we don’t belong to a land unlike other generations, we are creating our own homes from the pieces of places we have been living to, memories and cultures we choose to remember and adapt.

      We not only blend work and life together, we enjoy doing it, especially with all possible digital devices,  conference rooms and open areas, where we can gather and work.

      We are constantly communicating with our peers online, especially when it comes to getting the work done. Instead of making mistakes, we are asking each other in real time the best ways to get the things done and in the most efficient way.

      We admit our mistakes and we are more open to find the right solutions without pointing out who is right and who is wrong.

      We are willing to defer to authority based on the quality and efficiency of this authority. We simply do believe in what people actually do instead of what people say they do.

      We are very keen to honesty. As all our online tools made us very transparent to each other and to others, we think others might be just like us and we expect the same transparency from others.

      We want to be loyal to an organization, though we might calculate the opportunity of cost better than others. We do like to use online tools to gather and compare the information about companies, salaries and internal cultures. Also we are doing everything to better ourselves in terms of our education and professional skills just like other generations did and if an organization doesn’t recognize it, oh well… C’est la vie…

      We are very interested in our work, especially if to give us space to get it done in a more creative way.

      We are motivated not only by perks and high pay, but by our belonging to a community and mission.

      We really don’t know how to network, maybe because we don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers about something that we think they might not understand; we strongly believe if we have all the list of features required for a job, we definitely can add value to the company. As for the interpersonal skills – we have it all.

      We care about world and our impact on it even more than anybody else, we care about being connected, we care about global issues, we care about the quality of life not only for us, but for those around us.

      We definitely don’t think we are smarter – we simply know how to use search engines, where to find information, how to connect it and how to make the best use of it in order to solve problems; we are more flexible to look at each and every problem from a different angle and to accept broader ways of solving the same problem.

      And last but not least, we cannot be generalized - we are all different, some of us are more ambitious, willing to go extra mile, some of us not; some of us have more experience interacting with different age groups and various cultures, some of us not; some of us more introverted, some of us more extroverted.

      That’s the reality 🙂