Whether they are called Millennials, Digital Natives, or Generation Y, people under the age of 30 are typically portrayed as having unrealistically high expectations for their career and over-inflated sense of their abilities. They are lazy, lack emotional intelligence, and don’t take criticism well. But they can be easily won over by the latest gadget.
These generalizations make for amusing reading but they aren’t very useful to a Gen X manager trying to recruit more Millennials into the workplace. After a fair amount of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that just about everything we’re told about Gen Y isn’t true. To borrow a phrase I came across, Millennials are misunderstood, misinterpreted and misinformed.
I’m a big fan of myth busting and found two great articles that help dispel myths about millennials. Both Strategy+Business and MonsterThinking encourage employers to “forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employees.” Here are their top myths about millennials and a dose of reality:
Myth: Millennials don’t want to be told what to do.
Reality: Millennials are more willing to defer to authority than either baby boomers or Gen Xers.
Myth: Millennials lack organizational loyalty.
Reality: Young people of every generation change jobs more frequently than older people.
Myth: Millennials aren’t interested in their work.
Reality: It isn’t that Millennials aren’t motivated; it’s that they’re not motivated to do boring work.
Myth: Millennials are motivated by perks and high pay.
Reality: Research shows no relationship between a person’s generation and whether he or she is motivated by perks and high pay.
Myth: Millennials want more work–life balance.
Reality: Millennials and Gen Xers agree at about the same level that the demands of their work interfere with their personal lives.
Myth: Millennials are apathetic.
Reality: Millennial’s attention tends to wander quickly which means they appear bored to other generations. In addition, Millennials value service and respect more than money and status.
Myth: Millennials have trouble finding jobs.
Reality: Millennials have trouble networking, relying too much on automated skill matching services rather than interpersonal skills.
Myth: Millennials think they’re smarter than you were at their age.
Reality: Millennials can be smarter because they have easier access to information to make better decisions. As I’ve written before, their memories are cloudy.
So what does this all mean?
I’d be foolish to generalize how to deal with millennials just like you’d be foolish to believe the standard myths. There is one thing I know for certain:
If you create an environment that listens to your employees and values their contributions, you can attract candidates from any generation.