What are the most common misconceptions about millennials in the workplace? We often read on Social Platforms about millennials, who are considered as the “Lost Generation”. A generation everyone loves to hate, with their silly mobile phones, addiction to Social Networks, laziness, and disloyalty at the workplace.
However, we truly believe that the cause of those statements & assumptions is more the result of stereotypes, than what we can call “today’s reality”. Following are 3 of the most common myths about Generation Y behaviours in the workplace:
Myth 1: Millennials work less than other generations
A study in 2016 conducted by Manpower revealed that millennials work as hard, if not harder, than other generations. So where does the misconception that millennials are lazy in the workplace come from? The explanation is that a millennial’s definition of work and productivity differs from other generations.
An example is the use of technology to streamline and automate company processes to increase work speed and efficiency. This might be viewed as “laziness” by co-workers from different generations. A study conducted by PwC found that 75 percept of millennials strongly believe in an increase of efficiency at work through the use of technology. 50 percent claimed that their managers do not understand the technology they are using. Not surprisingly, the study revealed that “technology is often a catalyst for intergenerational conflict. Many millennials feel held back by rigid or outdated working styles.”
Myth 2: Millennials feel entitled
Quite frequently we read about warnings that Gen Y allegedly feel entitled to promotions and new opportunities. However, millennials neither feel nor are entitled. They have a different point of view on the traditional 9-to-5 job and career options compared to other generations.
Author Crystal Kadakia of the book “The Millennial Myth” writes about older generations, who indicated a valid reason to be grateful is “simply having a great job with a regular pay check”. This is not quite the case for Generation Y. They have alternatives to the traditional 9-to-5 jobs and the choice between various career paths including, entrepreneurship, freelancing & startups. More options and alternatives to earn an income and gain experience have given millennials higher expectations and more bargaining power. They try to negotiate better benefits and salaries, ask for flexible hours and more challenging work to develop themselves.
All of the mentioned points feed into the stereotype of millennials being entitled. According to Kadakia, if millennials have to choose between working for a company that offers slow growth opportunities and a non-competitive salary, versus joining a start up where you will learn a lot and it could go bust, most of them are inclined to choose the latter.
Myth 3: Millennials are in constant need of praise
A third and quite common misconceptions is that Generation Y is in constant search for recognition and praise. That may have been the case in their childhood. However, millennials have grown up – and want to be treated that way. When asked what makes a “perfect boss,” millennials said they want a manager who is ethical, fair and values transparency. Lower on the list of importance is a boss who recognizes their accomplishments and asks for their input. In fact, Gen X employees, more than millennials, think everyone on a successful team should be rewarded. And millennials are no hungrier for pats on the back than their Gen X colleagues.
The misconception that the “participation trophy” culture has made millennials desperate for recognition and praise is a quite frequent statement we read on Social media. However, according to Gallup, 56 percent of millennials meet their manager less than once a month, compared to 53 percent of non-millennials. Additionally, only 19 percent of Gen Y mentioned they receive frequent routine feedback, which is not a good thing. Regular check-ins make for more motivated employees, regardless of age and generation.
Final words on millennial misconceptions
Stereotypes and over-generalizations should not be applied to any generation and are never useful. Gen Y has surpassed Gen X as the latest segment of the workforce. Therefore, it is the time to remove generational barriers that have promoted myths about millennials in the workplace over the past years.