Close your eyes and think of the first word that appears when youhear “millennial.” Words likely to pop up are: entitled, self-absorbed, difficult, unengaged, or high-maintenance.
Why do we criticize and avoid Millennials the way we avoid Aunt Matilda’s fruitcake? All that negativity toward the youngest employees leads to widening generation gaps, increased employee turnover, and lost productivity.
This year Millennials (ages 20-33) became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. It’s time to open your minds to understand the majority. You’re likely seeing their behaviors in a negative way, when actually they have brought incredible qualities to the workforce.
Trust us, Millennials aren’t fruitcake! Here are just a few of the awesome gifts they’re bringing to the party.
Difficult vs. Innovative
The past century relied on workers who showed up, punched in, and paid their dues. So when Millennials want to move everything to the cloud, text their boss, and work from home it doesn’t go over very well. But Millennials are the first generation of the Post-Industrial Era, an era driven by technology, globalization, and instant gratification. Undoubtedly they will have different perspectives on how work should work. Is that really such a bad thing? As the saying goes, if your organization isn’t changing, it’s dying.
The Gift: Millennials are challenging us to rethink and reinvent. Their enthusiasm for innovation is leading organizations to greater productivity, relevance, and value.
Loyal vs. Inspired
Millennials are criticized for job-hopping. The fact is, they want to be inspired. This is a generation that masters new information and skills quickly, willingly takes on new challenges, and desires an opportunity to earn credibility. When the challenges and opportunities stop coming, that’s when turnover occurs. Millennials are dedicated employees, as long as they have someone inspiring them to do inspiring work.
The Gift: Millennials are teaching us that work is a meaningful part of our lives, and our work should inspire us — and others, too.
Independence vs. Collaboration
Frustrated with the Millennials for craving constant feedback? This stems back to childhood. Older generations were raised to be self-sufficient, playing outside all day and using their imaginations. But Millennials are the most supervised generation in history. Their ‘helicopter parents’ shuttled them around to activities and they hung out with friends while texting other friends. Millennials aren’t used to being alone. They expect to be part of the team, to get frequent and honest feedback, and to be asked their opinions.
The Gift: Millennials gravitate towards teamwork. They’re teaching the workforce to abandon silos and realize the benefits of collaboration and inclusion.
Enterprising Women is a partner in the new Million Women Mentors (MWM) initiative.
The initiative supports the engagement of one million science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) mentors — women and men — to increase the interest and confidence of young women to pursue and succeed in STEM degrees and careers.