Almost everywhere we turn, we see complaints about the Millennial generation. Born between the mid ’80s and the late ’90s (though the exact time frame is up for some debate), this generation has been analyzed and criticized just as much as Generation X before them. Millennials have been labeled entitled, narcissistic, and sheltered. But are these assumptions actually true? What do we need to know before hiring millennials into the workplace as they settle into their careers?
What You Need to Know Before Hiring Millennials
Millennials Are Not Lazy
As we teach in our courses, labeling people is not a productive management strategy. There are definitely difficult behaviors that need to be managed, but one of the primary ways to do so is to understand the motivations behind the behavior. One assumption that just won’t die is that millennials are “lazy.” In fact, there are more likely two other factors explaining what appears to be a lack of drive. First, this generation has experienced challenges far beyond those their parents and grandparents faced: the economic downturn in 2008 severely limited the number of Millennials who were able to enter the work force, despite having the highest college attendance rate of any generation. Even in the years of recovery since, Millennials are set back compared to the generations that have gone before.
Secondly, it’s not that Millennials aren’t motivated; it’s that they’re motivated by different factors. Millennials strongly value personally meaningful work and a work/life balance. They’ve witnessed Baby Boomer relatives work long hours at unfulfilling careers and do not want to repeat those same choices. Understanding and respecting these different motivations is key to bringing Millennials on board, both at entry-level and at management positions.
Millennials Offer Different Skill Sets
Millennials, it has been argued, are some of the least skilled members of the workforce: they struggle more than their predecessors in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving (more on that in a bit). But not all is lost. One of the benefits of a diverse workplace is the variety of skill sets it provides. The Millennial generation is not only tech savvy, but “tech native”; they’ve never known life without the Internet. This can mean huge opportunity for marketing and social media, an avenue in which many businesses still lag behind.
Millennials Were Made, Not Born
Columnists and armchair sociologists love disparaging Millennials, but to some extent this criticism is unfair. The setbacks and deficits of the Millennial generation (such as lower literacy skills) are largely the result of policies set by previous generations: increasing income inequality, more expensive and less effective education, and “helicopter” parents (Baby Boomers and Generation X) who demanded that every child be labeled as “special.” In short, it’s often not the younger generation’s fault that they display some of these traits. Hiring Millennials, then, offers an opportunity for their education. Training and professional development programs in personal effectiveness, communication skills, and professionalism can provide the younger generation with a better understanding of the world they’ve entered.
Whether companies like it or not, hiring Millennials is inevitable for businesses that want to continue growing. Understanding Millennials, their challenges, and their opportunity to help your organization is key to ushering in success.
Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance. Contact us today to find out what we have done for other organizations and how we can help yours.
Photo by ITU Pictures via Flickr