Debunking 3 Myths about Millennials at the Workplace
Millennials, much has been written about them in the working world. Born between the early 1980s to early 2000s, and also known as the Generation Y, millennials make up 25% of the total workforce population in the Asia Pacific region. Their unique nature in questioning almost everything about work and quick decisions to simply leave any job that they are not happy with has sparked a number of debates and gained them a reputation for being difficult to manage.
Generally, when older generations discuss about the younger generations, the context often contains negativity mainly due to a lack of understanding in the differences between generations. It simply is easier for older generations to stereotype their younger colleagues as a “generational defect” when they are not performing as expected or behaving as per what seemed to be a norm for the older generations. Millennials are therefore repeatedly labelled as “tough to manage”, “entitled”, “spoilt” and the list goes on.
Due to the underlying negative perception, many employers are still struggling to figure out how to manage the millennials. Here, we take a look at a few key lessons you can learn on managing the millennials and debunk some of the prevailing millennial myths for you:
Myth 1: They are not loyal.
Reality: They expect to be treated fairly.
Solution: Create a fair rewarding system.
Back in the days, it is common for employees to stay employed at the same company for more than 20 years. This may be seen as having a strong work ethic or a sense of loyalty towards their employers. On the contrary, millennials are more likely to jump ship if a job does not fulfil their needs.
With such huge contrast, it is not surprising that older generations often see millennials as job-hoppers. However, older generations are also perceived to be the most resistant to change and reluctant to try new things or difficult to adapt to new environment. This could possibly attribute to their lower turnover rate as changing jobs would require them to learn new skills or adapt to new technologies.
Millennials thrive on innovation and change. More importantly, they are motivated by fairness. Millennials expect fair play from their employer in the sense that is different from the older generations. If employers were to expect them to work hard, millennials would expect a fair wage and good reward system in return.
Myth 2: They are entitled.
Reality: They are willing to work hard and are not shy to ask for opportunities.
Solution: Communication is key.
Older generations were brought up in a hierarchical structure where role and status defined who they are. They believe in evaluating people based on tenure and rewarding or promoting employees based on “time in role”.
Millennials, on the other hand, grew up in the world of social networking, where there are no “role boundaries” or hierarchical structure, allowing them to think that everyone is unique and special. They strongly believe that people should be evaluated based on performance, not tenure.
The older generations are willing to wait for their turn and may expect the young generations to do the same thing but it becomes a problem when one is seen as cutting the queue. Here, communication is key to manage the expectations of both the millennials and the older generations. Gather their feedback and start re-evaluate the effectiveness of your current appraisal methods to identify the most ideal performance management system that is best suited for your workforce.
Myth 3: They are needy/attention-seeking.
Reality: They want training and feedback as they are very progressive in nature.
Solution: Make a difference.
Previous generations are accustomed to “no news means good news” approach in their way of life. This also applies to their workplace. For the older generations, if their bosses were to have minimal engagement with them or speak less to them, then that would mean all is well.
However, it is the total opposite for the millennials. Most millennials grew up knowing the importance of receiving feedback for continuous development and continuous learning in life. They are not accustomed to being kept in the dark and would seek to find out how they are doing in an organisation.
Employers should make a difference and take a positive step for this approach as millennials’ proactive learning desire will only benefit their organisations. Provide them with the directions they need, including regular constructive feedback. Allow them to fulfil their duties, making them happier employees and ultimately improving employee engagement.
Like it or not, majority of the millennials are already part of your current workforce. In truth, millennials are just a group of people widely misunderstood by other generations as they are still in the midst of growing up and establishing themselves in the working world. Managing them has become an essential part of top leaders’ jobs today. Remember that no generations are without their flaws. If you are to make judgements on your millennial employee, just be sure that it is based on solid facts, and not fiction.