When you hear the word “millennial” in the workplace, you might meet the term with an eye-roll or a grunt. Negative stereotypes seep into your brain as you consider this generation, those born between 1981 and 1996, to be all but beneficial to our workforce.
You may not be thrilled about their abundant entrance into your office, but they are certainly not going anywhere. In fact, millennials have grown to be the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, making up 35% of it, according to Pew Research Center.
In order for our professional world to prosper, every generation at work must exercise an open mind and patience for those different than they are. More often than not, our frustrations and negative opinions of people stem from a misunderstanding.
I’ve met and gotten to know many people of the Millennial generation, and I see and recognize the stereotypes of them that circle around the minds of workforce elders. Some ring true; some don’t. Even for the ones that do, though, there’s always more to the story than what meets the eye.
Taking a deeper look at each millennial stereotype actually uncovers truths of a younger generation that perhaps cannot be immediately understood by generations outside their own. In other words, millennials get a bad wrap for being lazy, entitled, and disloyal. But there’s a bigger picture to see here.
Lazy, or Efficient?
For example, the most prominent stereotype of millennials circulating the workplace is that they are lazy. They don’t want to come to work, they don’t care to look presentable, they are always looking for shortcuts. It makes sense how people could come to these conclusions as they see younger generations walking around in public with their PJs on and eyes glued to their phones.
Let me offer an alternative way to think about it. Younger generations grew up in the age of technology, and they have since become experts. Technology has always been a part of their life, allowing them to know best how to use it most efficiently.
Work smarter, not harder. Millennials don’t seek to minimize work, but rather, to get it done in the most productive and least time-consuming manner. This idea is often manifested through technology, such as working from home on a laptop or using social media as a source of income.
Entitled, or Ambitious?
Along with their perceived laziness comes their perceived entitlement. Millennials seem to expect to land a great job upon college graduation, make a high salary, and have other types of company privileges.
Millennials are aware of their value in the workplace. They have a skill set more advanced than prior generations, and they’d be damned if they didn’t use that to their benefit. Who could blame them?
In addition, having a life engrained with technology, younger generations don’t know what it’s like to wait or be patient. They’re used to having information and communication at their fingertips, and therefore, they’ve become quite uncomfortable with sitting still.
Their aspirations and expectations may not always be realistic, but it stems from a high-paced mindset and immediate gratification lifestyle they’ve lived most of their lives. For this, their ambition can be misconstrued as entitlement.
Unreliable, or Versatile?
Younger workers also always seem to be on-the-go and looking for the next best thing. Job-hopping is something many of them are familiar with, and as a result, they are often pinned to be disloyal and unreliable.
In the past, having loyalty to your company and building a career with the same employer was the respectable thing to do. Nowadays, things are different and younger generations see a value in gaining experience from more than one company.
With resumes of diverse jobs, younger people have become well-rounded through their various endeavors. They’ve worked for all different kinds of people, projects, companies, etc. It’s not that they’re untrustworthy, they are just eager to learn new things from new places in an effort to become a more cultured and flexible asset to any company.
Every generation endures stigmas from outsiders. People say that although stereotypes are not always true, they are, nonetheless, rooted in facts. But this isn’t about verifying or dismissing stereotypes—it’s about understanding a deeper meaning to them. It’s about understanding a deeper meaning to people, as a whole. The better we do this, the better we can all work together in harmony.
iGenCo is committed to ensuring that your workplace fosters strong relationships between workers of different generations. Learn more about their Relationship Management Training here.