Plenty of assumptions are being made about Millennials, especially as they not only move into the workplace, but also become leaders in the workplace. Some assumptions might be true, but we also think it’s important to know which ones aren’t true so that you can make the best decisions about working with your employees.
Myths About Millennials In The Workplace
Myth: All Millennials think flexible work hours and telecommuting are the most important benefits.
When it comes
to the workplace,
it’s good to realize that
regardless of age,
will be different.
A major concern with this statement is that this is a generalization of every person born between 1981-1997 (that would be all 20- to 35-year-olds). The reality is that people are different and even two Millennial siblings within a few years of one another with the same upbringing could value different things.
When it comes how this affects the workplace, it’s good to realize that every employee, regardless of age, will be different. A 35-year-old woman with 15 years of experience is going to prioritize different benefits than a 20-year-old man in his first office job. Technically, recent research says that those two people will have the same priorities--namely 1) training, 2) flexibility, and 3) cash bonuses.
The smart response, as a company leader, to this myth is to look at the needs of people overall rather than overgeneralizing when considering which benefits will draw the best employees.
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Myth: Millennials need constant praise in the workplace.
Again, every person was raised differently, even if they are the same age or they come from the same area of the world. People operate based on their unique needs. Even some Baby Boomers or people in Generation X function better on praise than others.
This myth probably comes from the fact that Millennials grew up with a “participation-trophy-for-all” mentality from overly-doting parents. Some people did grow up that way, but others may not have had that kind of support at home. The trouble is, again, in making assumptions that overgeneralize to the point that it's not possible to be true for everyone. There’s probably no harm in providing positive feedback for a job well done, but when the praise is misplaced or provided in overdoses, it can feel disingenuous.
The truth is that some people are motivated by praise and others are motivated by the paycheck and cash incentives. Assuming that all 20- to 36-year-olds want positive words can actually lead to employees leaving the company rather than acting as a way of retaining their talent. Some Millennials don’t care about praise and really just want to get paid more, which could lead them to leave the company if they get a nice note instead of the $100 bill that Gen Xers get. The only way to tell what motivates each person is probably just to ask them and to pay attention to how they react when they’re told that they’ve done a good job.
Myth: Millennials are “aimless or disloyal,” so they do not stay with the same company for as long as the previous generation did.
Employees no longer feel loyal
to a company that is not
going to be loyal to them.
There is some truth to this argument in that according to a Gallup poll, “21% of Millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, more than 3x the number of non-Millennials, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same. Gallup estimates that Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.”
The myth of this statement comes from the fact that the cause isn’t disloyalty or a lack of aim. Instead, this job-hopping seems to be a result of employers’ own lack of loyalty, which according to experts, goes back to how employers would lay off their employees for the sake of increasing profits in recent decades. The ultimate effect is that employees no longer feel loyal to a company that is not going to be loyal to them.
On top of that, some Millennials have reported that they are more likely to leave if they don’t have flexibility or the trust of their supervisors. That’s probably true of anyone, however, which goes back to the problem of overgeneralization. It’s certainly true that people of all ages would leave a workplace with managers that micromanage every project or CEOs that don’t look at their employees as whole people with families and friends and hobbies and goals and life outside the office.
In the end, it’s wise to avoid generalizing any group of people; we seem to know that this is true for avoiding assumptions about people based on where they’re from or what they look like. The same concept applies to people based on when they’re born too. Seeing your employees as individuals is the best way to avoid the problems and costs associated with high turnover rates.
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