The Danger of Millennial Stereotypes

A millennial woman sitting at her desk

There are stereotypes floating around out there referencing just about any group of people you can think of - and they're ever-present in the workplace. As the largest group in today's workforce, Millennials, in particular, have been getting quite a bit of not-so-positive attention.

As someone who's part of the Millennial generation, I can tell you that we aren't all the same. But much to our chagrin, we're getting clumped together and assigned stereotypes that don't accurately represent our generation. What kind of Millennial stereotypes are we talking about?

1. They're lazy

They don shirts that say things like "I Can't Adult Today"  and they expect to surf the web for what they're looking for and complete tasks quickly. Both can make them seem like they want to put in minimal effort. But when it comes to work and their careers, Millennials are far from lazy. In fact, research shows many trend toward the workaholic side, and 43% want to be seen as "work martyrs."  Their ultimate goal is to contribute to their professional growth and skill development, and they're ready to cut time spent on favorite pursuits in half in order to do so.

2. They're entitled

They're often referred to as the "trophy generation," due to the awards they received as children simply for participating in certain sports or events. Many think they expect things handed to them on a silver platter or that they want a pat on the back just for showing up. But what Millennials really want is to know how they're doing performance-wise and get recognition for a job well done. A recent survey found that 74% of Millennials feel in the dark about how their managers and peers think they're performing, while nearly 85% would feel more confident if they were able to have more frequent conversations with their managers.

3. They're job-hoppers

Millennials are painted as job-hoppers who lack loyalty to their organizations. But 83% of Millennials surveyed said they'd prefer to work at one organization for a long period of time. They're a learning generation, eager for professional development. Organizations that provide learning and development opportunities are much less likely to see this job-hopping stereotype come to life. The majority of Millennials (53%) said they would stay with their current employer to learn new things or have access to learning and development opportunities, while only 14% said they feel the need to job hop to advance professionally.

4. They're high maintenance

The Millennial generation is branded as employees who need their hands held and want special treatment. But they're not looking for anything extraordinary. They're looking for greater work/life balance and the flexibility to deal with everything that comes their way. With life outside work, family demands, continuing education, and financial responsibilities, Millennials have a lot on their plates, and they want to make time to do it all. Many crave flexibility on the job, either with their schedules and work hours or the option to telecommute, and it isn't just because they want more time for themselves. When they're able to make time for everything in their lives, they can focus better on their work, too.

While stereotypes will inevitably continue to exist, the number of Millennial employees will continue to grow. By 2020, Millennials will make up over 50% of the workforce. Figuring out how to best relate to and manage this generation will ultimately set your organization up for future success.
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Written by: Jeannie Krill

About the Author

Jeannie Krill at Bright Horizons

As a former Bright Horizons preschool teacher, Jeannie has seen what child care means to clients firsthand. She also offers a view from the Millennials camp, cluing us into what’s challenging today’s largest demographic, and what they really want. She holds a BA in Psychology from Valparaiso University.