The Danger of Millennial Stereotypes

A millennial woman sitting at her desk

Stereotypes are everywhere in the workforce. And Millennial stereotypes? Let’s just say they’ve proven especially hearty.  

The workforce’s largest group continues to get a lot of not-so-positive attention (avocado toast anyone?). And like any broad generalizations, the stereotypes are faulty at best. 

What kind of Millennial stereotypes are out there?

1. They're lazy

They don shirts that say things like "I Can't Adult Today" and they expect to surf the web 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 they trend toward workaholics, with 43% identifying as "work martyrs." Devoted to professional growth, they’re focused on skill development, and ready to cut time spent on favorite pursuits in half to make it happen.

2. They're entitled

They're often called the "trophy generation" for the awards they got as kids. Many think they want a pat on the back just for showing up at work. But what Millennials really want is to know how they're doing performance-wise, and to get recognition for a job well done. Three quarters are unsure how they're performing; nearly 85% are hungry for more frequent conversations with managers, and all would feel more confident if they were able to have them. 

3. They're job-hoppers

Millennials are painted as job-hoppers who lack loyalty. But 83% said they'd prefer to work at one organization for a long period of time. The secret: learning and development. Most (53%) said they’d stay put for the opportunity to learn. So organizations that offer it are most likely to keep them on board. 

4. They're high maintenance

They’re branded as needy, requiring hand-holding and special treatment to succeed. But they're not looking for anything extraordinary; just better work/life balance, and the flexibility to deal with everything – family, education, and financial responsibilities – on their plates. Many crave flex time and the option to telecommute, and not just because they want more time for themselves. When they're able to make time for everything in their lives, Millennials can focus better on their work, too.

Stereotypes will inevitably continue to exist, but the percentage of Millennial employees will continue to grow. By next year, projections say Millennials will make up more than 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

November 14, 2019

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.