Millennials: Myth vs Fact In The Workforce

Millennials are, in a word, disruptive. Those born from the early 80s to the start of the millennium are changing the way businesses function on all levels. Rather than fear or resent those changes, it’s time to adapt, say millennial experts, Michael Parrish DuDell and Ben Casnocha.  In the next 5 years, millennials will constitute the majority of the workforce, and by 2025, that number will rise to a whopping 75%.

“Millennials are noncommittal”
Though millennials have developed a reputation for being noncommittal, they are holding onto initial jobs longer than generational predecessors. For example, last September, the Washington Post reported a median job tenure for GenXers at 3.2 years compared to 2.7 years in 2002.

“Millennials are wasteful with money”
Though some claim GenY are wasteful with money, they in fact, save more money than any other age group, reported the Fiscal Times in February.

“Millennials are lazy, and would rather work for themselves than an employer”
A recent study by Bentley University  reported 66% of Millennials want to start their own business and work with others, while 37% would like to work on their own (solo). It may be that millennials are more entrepreneurial than any previous generation, meaning they are willing to work harder, during nontraditional hours and in various settings.  Employers can maximize this entrepreneurial spirit by giving millennial employees the opportunity to work remotely and/or with more flexible hours. The Bentley study reported that 77% of Millennials agree that flexible work hours would make their workplace more productive. Furthermore, millennials are starting to blur the line between work and life, as the vast majority of Millennials own a smartphone and over 89% admit to regularly checking their work email after work hours.

“Millennials are job hoppers”
Their reputation as job-hoppers has more to do with their search for intrinsically valuable work, suggests Derek Anderson in The Atlantic. Millennials work according to a “dream job premium,” he writes, testing and ruling out multiple fields of work in their 20s so that they may find more profitable and more meaningful positions in their 30s and 40s.

That’s why it helps to think of the job contract as an alliance, says Casnocha. “Stop thinking of employees as family or free agents, and start thinking of them as allies on a tour of duty,” he said in an April speech at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 Talent Management Conference & Exposition. Employers ought to understand their relationship with their employees as a mutually beneficial alliance, one where the employee commits to a specific duty in a finite amount of time over a commonly shared goal. A more incremental, project-based dynamic allows a relationship to build step-by-step. Employee and employer both can reassess each step of the way how the employee can continue to serve the company, and how the company can continue to serve each, with no false sense of lifetime loyalty expected.

Another way leaders could improve the relationship with the young workforce is by asking what changes they may like to see, rather than go by assumption or prejudice alone. “The most important thing a leader can do is to ask,” Dudell says. “This is a very entrepreneurial generation. They love the idea of feeling like they have control over their life, and they frankly don’t want to do things they don’t want to do, which is a negative part of this generation.” Opening an ear to the young hires’ insights allows them to feel valued and opens doors for future ideas. The more personal investment an employer can develop, the more likely a millennial employee will stick with the company.

Click here to read our interview with millennial expert Michael Parrish DuDell

The content writers at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau are Experts on the Experts. They hold doctoral, masters, and bachelors’ degrees in business, writing, literature, and education. Their business thought pieces are published regularly in leading business publications. Working in close association with the top business, entrepreneur, and motivational speakers, BigSpeak content writers are at the forefront of industry trends and research.