I’m sure most of you have heard this annoying stereotype and if you’re a millennial like me even rolled your eyes and blamed it on out of touch people making exaggerations based on a few. It’s easy to dismiss such claims but still you must wonder, is there a grain of truth there?
It’s not a secret that a large portion of this generation has a negative workplace reputation. If you Google “millennials in the workplace”, a slew of posts about engagement and motivation will fill your screen. Why is this such a big topic? To begin, a large portion of management and executive teams consist of Baby Boomers and Generation X, so understanding this new breed is critical to the success of their organizations. Secondly, this generation is due to be 75% of the workforce within the next decade, so the takeover is imminent.
As a millennial who manages other millennials, I confess that we, at times, have done things to earn these stereotypes, BUT I believe a lot of this comes from generational and societal differences. Most of the generations that have come before us were taught to finish school and immediately enter a career, and there were few who waivered. Now, we’re seeing parents encouraging their children to travel and take time off prior to entering the 9:00-5:00 (do people still actually work 9:00-5:00?). Before millennials have even gotten to this point in their life you’ll see parents reprioritize their life, so their child doesn’t miss an unimportant social event. It has taught our generation to live in the moment and worry less about the future. This is by no means a knock on the previous generations or millennials, because what it has the potential to result in can mean dedication and innovation (just trust me, keep reading).
Ultimately, conformities in the workplace have been significantly minimized, which has enabled individuals to follow their dreams. Yes, their immediate dreams may be traveling to Thailand for a year, but eventually it becomes something that could create incredibly successful and productive employees. When, not if, millennials become aware that frustration is not warranted after one month into their career, their stubbornness to accomplish their goals can be quite powerful. As employers, if we continue to harness their goal-seeking mentality to drive success we might just create a new stereotype for Google to splatter.
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