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September 08, 2014

Do Millennials Have It Right?

Posted 4 years 318 days ago by Gretchen Hirsch

If you believe the popular press, Millennials are a pretty sorry lot: spoiled, lazy, entitled, cocky, and lacking in people skills. We’re told they expect huge salaries, immediate placement in executive teams, quick promotion, and lots of fun and reward every day. 


This view appears to be at least somewhat skewed. Most of this generation (born between 1980 and 2001 or thereabouts, depending on which expert you listen to) demonstrates characteristics that are actually quite beneficial to all kinds of workplaces, if you dare to give them a chance. Scores of studies have shown that Millennials are:

  • Well-educated. Yes, they have things to learn, but they start from a significant knowledge base and they bring that to work every day.
  • Ethnically, racially, and economically diverse. Many of their high school and college experiences have brought them into close contact with those who differ from them. Through travel and study abroad, they often have considerable knowledge of different cultures.
  • Connected. It’s a fact that they’re tied to their devices. It wasn’t long after they were born that they picked up their first piece of technology and learned to use it faster and better than their parents.
  • Collaborative. They have been working in teams since grade school and have less patience with top-down, rigid hierarchical structures and one-way conversation.
  • Flexible. They see little to no value in lockstep work styles and understand that technology gives them options for completing projects and networking without being “ in the office” eight consecutive hours each day.
  • Concerned with balancing the requirements of work with their personal and family lives. More than any other generation before them, Millennials expect their work to reflect their highest ideals and to result in the greatest benefit for the greatest number. In a recent article in Talent Management, Melissa Murray Bailey, president of employer branding company Universum Americas, says that “the overwhelming majority—85 percent—of students … indicated that work is more than a way of making money.”

The very qualities Millennials possess are becoming more and more crucial to success today. Comfort with diversity makes it likely these well-educated employees will seek out a range of opinions from people different from themselves, and widely disparate work teams often bring valuable—and sometimes overlooked—insights to the table.


Because of their technological prowess, Millennials can gain immediate access to everything from pop culture to obscure databases—all the time, not just during business hours. Through their mastery of social media, they may be only one or two degrees of separation from experts throughout the world. They can research reams of data very quickly and develop complex concepts based on multiple sources. They are often valuable team members because of their ability to tie together information they have quickly amassed.


Millennials’ ability to collaborate effectively—sometimes face-to-face and sometimes at a distance—means they often are less concerned with who gets credit and more interested in finding the best solutions to knotty problems. Their collaborative efforts can save companies considerable time and money.


Workplace flexibility—how, when, and where work is accomplished—is known to have a significant effect on employee engagement and retention. Millennials’ growing insistence on alternative work arrangements ultimately may result in greater productivity and job satisfaction across the entire business landscape.


Concern with work-life balance is near the top of nearly every survey undertaken with Millennials. As Bailey says, “Their call for [this] balance isn’t an indication of laziness—it’s the need for their jobs to be representative of who they are.”


“In a sense,” says Sheila Lewis, CEO of Ashton212, “aren’t Millennials articulating what all age groups want from work: a sense of purpose, some degree of autonomy, productive teamwork, time for family and other pursuits, and the knowledge that their contributions have meaning and value in the wider society?


“Some people find their life work in long-term employment with one company, while others are comfortable in interim engagements with a variety of employers. By making careful choices among our associates, we are able to match not only skills, but also the styles of work that will make interim engagements profitable, meaningful, and enjoyable, both for those we place and those we serve. Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, or Millennials—are all highly skilled and ready to make a difference.”


Tell us what you think about this talented group of young people.

Tags: millennials work place workforce

Categories: categoryCollege Grads categoryMillennials categoryWorkforce

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