- Author: Andy Eineichner
- Subject Matter: Millennials in the workplace
- Issue: Debunking stereotypes
Encountering a millennial in the workplace is pretty normal for most of us now, depending on the industry. If you’re in a business that utilizes technology, then there’s a bigger chance you’re surrounded by millennials – or maybe you’re a millennial yourself. If you’re in the automotive or machining industry, it may be different. Regardless of your industry, you probably have people talking about millennials whether it’s good or bad, true or false, right or wrong, the stereotypes are out there in full force.
I am a millennial, and I’ve probably heard just about everything you’ve heard about them. And let me tell you, those things just aren’t true. (Well, maybe some of them.) But these things can’t be true of every member of a group born within a decade+ and can also be true for everyone from the prevailing baby boom, Gen X, to newborn, undefined generations as well. It’s not a generational thing. Every generation has its own lazy, technology-obsessed or entitled people.
Millennials are the future, but more important, they are the present, and from a business perspective if nothing else, if you want to be successful and reach your entire market potential, they need to be understood.
How can you do that? Let’s break down four of the most common myths about millennials from a millennial:
Millennials expect things handed to them
While you may be hard-pressed to find many people who would just say “no” if something they desired was handed to them, the vast majority of millennials, and people in general, understand and accept the concept of having to work to earn what they want. The generalization that millennials just expect everything to be handed to them is plain false as evidenced by the number of millennials actively in school, in the workforce or fighting for those opportunities. Sure, some people in the millennial category feel entitled, but so do people from every generation. It’s a personality thing, not an age-group thing.
Millennials are obsessed with technology
“Obsessed” is a strong word, but the younger generation should know more about technology, right? After all, they were raised by technology. The way people do business is changing to be done via emerging technology, so having someone who fully understands it is a positive – not a negative – for your business. If you don’t understand how to sell to customers (of any age group) by way of emerging technology, why would they buy from you? They can just move on to the next guy who’s trying. The customer wants convenience, so if you won’t provide it, plenty of other people already will.
Millennials are lazy
Who doesn’t enjoy a good ol’ lazy day? But to categorize an entire generation as being lazy? That’s just not right, and a lazy generalization in itself. Look at all the self-made millionaires, entrepreneurs, the new ideas and innovations that have come out of the millennial generation so far. Have some of them been made to help someone be lazier? Sure, but who doesn’t want to work smarter rather than harder? Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. So, if a better, more efficient way of doing something is necessary, then leave it to your closest millennial to invent a way to be more efficient, or lazy, if you will.
Millennials are poor communicators
Are millennials really poor communicators? Or are you not adept to the new ways of communicating? Talking in person and on the phone are still very effective ways of communicating. What about the people who want to just send a quick email or text message? Or consider the still-growing impact of social media or digital communication (like, say, a blog!). With the proliferation of these modes of communication, what may seem like a minor detail to you could be a lost sales opportunity that you don’t realize because you don’t value it.
Sure, I’m just a guy on the internet, but hear me out. I’m a millennial making an argument (not just asking for your respect) and utilizing a mode of technology to communicate with you, no matter your generation. In short, please reconsider stereotypes.
If you’re turning away millennials because you believe very general things about a very wide range of young to middle-aged people in the workforce and consumer groups, you are choosing to miss out on a lot of potential in the workplace – and beyond.
I challenge you to sit down and talk to a person of this younger generation. Ask questions about their communication skills, their motivations, goals and their work ethic. Some of the hardest working people I know are millennials, and it’s because they know they need to work hard for everything they want – that’s just how the world works. And many of them feel that they have to work extra hard because the business owners and managers, often from a different generation, already think they’re lazy.
Next time you’re looking to hire a new employee, think about who is going to best suit your needs. Do you sell online? If not, then why not? Does anyone you work with know how to effectively use the internet to sell your stuff? Are you expecting everyone to be great on the phone because you think email, instant messaging, and texts aren’t meant to be in the workplace? Is being obsessed with technology really so bad when technology can be the place where you make the most profit?
I’m not arguing to hire millennials for the sake of millennials (not looking for a handout, remember?). What I am saying is that you can turn what seems to be a generational liability into your business’ success, and that way, everybody – no matter age – wins.