Millennials in the Workplace — Don’t Believe the Hype

166628514It is a long-held sentiment across the American workforce that those of the generation known as millennials, ranging in age from teenagers to 30-somethings, lack the motivation, inner drive and professionalism of previous waves of workers. Often disparaged for what is commonly perceived as lack of achievement in the workplace, it is becoming increasingly critical to look past the hype and stereotypes and examine the true facts to reveal the tremendous potential our youngest cohort of professionals holds for the future of our economy.

So here are the facts: By 2020, millennials will represent a full 40% of the total working population in America. This explosive growth trend is already showing signs of the continued upward trajectory to come, with the overall unemployment rate for millennials falling by 1.3% in the last year alone. This is aided by the addition of 321,000 jobs in November 2014, following more than 200,000 jobs created in 10 consecutive months prior, a trend we haven’t seen in this country since 1995. Further, the past year has been the best and most successful the US labor market has seen since 2000.

What is the primary engine behind this success? You guessed it – millennials themselves. So you see, there is far more than meets the eye – or the headlines – about this fast-growing generation that is transforming our world, global economies, and overall business landscape.

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So then the real question becomes – where is this negative reputation coming from? Why do we feel this cohort of young professionals is not up to snuff when it comes to today’s workplace demands and expectations? In my mind, the answer lies in the ways employers motivate and manage millennials, often necessitating a change in attitude and direction, rather than continuing to try to shove a round peg in the square hole that previous generations of workers have forged.

And how do employers go about the task? Here’s some advice I can offer from experience:

  • Work Hard, Play Hard. Put your money where your mouth is – literally. Sometimes this results in firing millennial hires who fail to reach set expectations and give 100%. They sometimes need to learn key workplace lessons the hard way.
  • Play Fair. Establish a culture of respect and a level playing field – don’t single out younger employees and perpetuate the stereotypes. This often results in millennial employees feeling they can’t succeed or reach the level of older staff, no matter what they do.
  • Hire for Motivation and Growth. Seek out millennial hires who are eager to learn, grow and advance with your company. Take advantage of this younger generation’s desire to build a career and build-in loyal, dedicated employees who can evolve as your company does. In so doing, harness the best qualities millennials offer and the upward growth trajectory they will bring for the overall job market and economy.
  • Mentor and Coach. Give your millennial employees the tools and tricks of the trade they hunger for, to inspire growth, cultivate motivation and drive them to new heights of professional development.

All in all, millennials represent tremendous potential for employers. Hard-working, highly educated and eager to learn, a change in approach and concerted commitment to mentorship, support, and providing opportunities for advancement and growth will help to ensure you are gleaning the best from this young generation and putting it to work for your company as you grow.

 MORE: Millennial generation a dominant force

Marc Berman

Marc Berman
Marc Berman is president of Vector Technical Resources, an IT and staff augmentation company servicing the private, federal and state sectors.

Marc Berman

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One Response to “Millennials in the Workplace — Don’t Believe the Hype”

  1. Cody1 says:

    Great post Marc. I really love the quote “the answer lies in the ways employers motivate and manage millennials, often necessitating a change in attitude and direction, rather than continuing to try to shove a round peg in the square hole that previous generations.” This should ring true to current managers because they need to accept that this generation is shaping your companies culture. We wrote a great article around how millennials are shaping the company cultures they are working for.

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