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Moving Beyond Millennial Stereotypes

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials surpassed Gen Xers as the largest cohort in the U.S. workforce in Q1 of 2015. Yet, despite their prominent position in the workplace, there are still many misconceptions and stereotypes about millennials. We’ve selected a few to take a closer look at.

They’re Entitled

In an article for Fast Company, Neal Taparia notes that, “Many employers find it irritating when a wet-behind-the-ears employee asks for work-from-home privileges.” In general, millennials crave flexibility, whether it’s working from home, being able to take a leave of absence to travel, transition job locations, etc.

While some employers may perceive this as millennials having an undo sense of entitlement, particularly for employees just entering the job market, the reality is that millennials simply have different expectations. This doesn’t mean employers have to meet millennials’ needs. However, given the growth of this cohort, it does mean that they need to be well aware of these expectations and preferences. Companies that wish to attract the best millennial talent need to take their unique needs into consideration.

They Think They Should Be The Boss

“The stereotype is that millennials think they should be the boss,” says Taparia. “That doesn’t mean millennials are impossible to work with, just that they thrive when they aren’t micromanaged.” This group is confident and independent and doesn’t require excessive supervision. This can be frustrating to some managers, but it is really a benefit. If an employee can do her job without constant supervision and support, her manager is free to spend time on other efforts. The challenge is encouraging managers to give these employees some space.

Spend Too Much Time Socializing

Many Gen Xers and baby boomers may get frustrated when their staff members—or children—are constantly on their smartphones and can’t seem to spend two minutes away from their social circle, whether in person or virtually.

It’s true that Gen Y, or the millennial generation, is hooked on social media, and this can certainly be a distraction in the workplace; but the ability to network and engage socially can also be a boon if that energy is channeled appropriately.

They Job Hop

This is one of the major assumptions about younger generations. Employers are wary of hiring from a group they believe will stay on the job for a year or two – long enough to add another item to their resumes – and then leave for the next, better opportunity. However, this assumption may be entirely misplaced.

Writing for CNBC, Maggie Overfelt says, “Almost 90 percent of millennials surveyed in a new study said that they would choose to stay in a job for the next 10 years if they knew they'd get: annual raises; and upward career mobility. Most millennials are planning to stay in their jobs for at least six years, and 77 percent would be willing to take a salary cut in exchange for long-term job security, according to a survey provided exclusively to CNBC by Qualtrics, a Provo, Utah-based survey software firm, and venture capital firm Accel Partners (a Qualtrics investor).”

Although Generation Z is close om the heal of millennials, we still have a lot to learn about this growing percentage of our workforce. They will continue to be a force in the workplace for years to come. Understanding some of the common stereotypes and misconceptions about this group is the first step towards debunking those myths and taking full advantage of all that this talented group has to offer.

Be inclusive!

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