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Debunking the Myths of Working With Millennials

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By Townes Haas   |    October 14, 2014   |    10:33 AM

Debunking the Myths of Working With Millennials
Millennials are getting a bad rap. Twenty-somethings have gained a reputation as unmotivated and entitled, particularly in the workplace, but many managers are finding that simply isn’t the case. Is it just that this new and large generation of workers simply work differently? We’re no strangers to the idea that today’s professionals want to create their own work styles, and our past surveys overwhelmingly support this trend and have shown that people want to work with more flexibility, independence and mobility.

A recent article asserted that millennials are poised to start changing companies for the better, if generations before them are simply willing to let them. So we’re setting out to take a look at and debunk common myths of working with millennials and why they not only make great employees, but also represent the future of how we all work.

Myth #1: They’re not willing to put in the work
Fact: 69% of millennials say that they work after leaving the office, versus only 62% of baby boomers

Perhaps the most prevalent myth about millennials is that they’re unmotivated and entitled. But talk to any millennial today and they’re likely to tell you that their work takes priority. The difference for this generation is that many don’t see the need to come to an office from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and they often don’t feel that they need to be managed if their roles and responsibilities are clear. A 2012 survey by CareerBuilder also found that only 38% of millennials are leaving the office by 5:00, vs. 41% of baby boomers, and 69% said that they work after leaving the office, vs. only 62% of baby boomers. These numbers point to millennials putting in the hours, so perhaps part of the misconception comes from their desire for mobility. This leads us to the next myth...

Myth #2: They want too much flexibility
Fact: A desire for flexible work options spans all age groups

Another misconception about millennials is that they require too much flexibility in the workplace. The myth here isn’t that they require flexibility, the myth is that millennials are the only group seeking this flexibility. Our Work IQ survey series consistently found that more and more people, from every age group, want to work with more flexibility and mobility. A new study from PwC also found that the desire for flexible work options spans all age groups. As a result, more and more companies are giving their employees the freedom to customize their work hours and locations. The flexibility that millennials want from their employers largely represents the future of working, and it often leads to more satisfied and loyal employees.

Myth #3: They’re more interested in forming bonds with technology than other people
Fact: Technology has improved business and workplace productivity for the better

It’s true that the majority of millennials are more adept with technology than generations before them and social media is second nature to them, but as technology has changed and social networks have evolved, the way business is conducted has also evolved. But it isn’t all fun and games for millennials and technology. They’re using networking sites for instant data sharing, collaboration, and staying informed on current events. Millennials are using apps, cloud services and mobile devices to conduct business seamlessly anywhere, any time.

Myth #4: They’re not loyal
Fact: Over half of millennials think staying at a job for at least three years is important

The myth that millennials spend 1.5 years at a job, and that they’re switching jobs at a dramatically higher rate than previous generations are some of the biggest misconceptions about this generation. The CareerBuilder survey found that over half of millennials think staying at a job for at least three years is important, and a recent study by the Labor Department found that they’re barely outpacing the number of jobs that baby boomers held at the same age. Many also point to advances in job searching technology as a driver behind this increase (albeit it a slight increase) in job switches, and that if previous generations had been offered the same tools, they likely would have matched, if not exceeded, the job turnover rates of millennials. The truth is that millennials emphasize the value of job satisfaction and culture, and while they’re willing to leave over a lack of opportunity and flexibility, they’re also loyal to companies that embrace and encourage it.

Many of the millennial generation’s misnomers simply come from their desire to make their own work rules. These shifting values, coupled with rapidly evolving technology, have simply given us a generation of workers that are pushing the boundaries of how business has traditionally been conducted. For most companies, success is going to come when they embrace millennials as a valuable part of their workforce, and use their strengths to compliment the strengths of generations before them.

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