There are forty million Millennials in the workforce right now. By 2020, they will account for fifty percent of the workforce. By 2025, three out of every four workers worldwide will be of the Millennial Generation, and currently in the workplace, there are more Millennials than there are Boomers. The great generational shift is happening right before your eyes and it’s shaking the workforce at the core.
Much has been written about the Millennial Generation, including scathing articles about them being lazy, self-centered, myopic and needy. Let’s take a look at the generalizations cast upon this generation that make them less desirable hires.
- They want the top spot in the management foodchain
- They don’t like authority
- They are lazy
- They can’t get along with older generations
- They expect to be rewarded for everything
- They were given trophies for participation
- They don’t know how to focus
Now, I think these accusations are massively unfair and are in fact, a generalization across an entire generation that is still in the midst of development. Are there Millennials that are lazy, entitled and self-centered? Absolutely, but so are people in all other generations that have come before us. It’s wrong to assume that because you have a Millennial on your team, they’re going to live up to the label.
History tends to repeat itself, the concerns that we hear today about the ‘next generation’ not being worth their weight in salt can be heard as far back as the Paleolithic age. The so called “Greatest Generation” didn’t become great until a world war was thrown at them, and they responded by fighting valiantly and sacrificing for the greater good. Given the chance to rise to the occasion, they did.
We can’t continue to be fearful of the ‘next generation.’ We need to embrace what Millennials bring to the table, learn from them and teach them. But first, we have to welcome them into the fold. Here’s how.
Hiring Millennials doesn’t have to be problematic. The common criticism levelled at the Millennials is this notion that they can take the top spot in any organizations at any time. If this is the case, it means they’re ambitious and I’d ask, is that such a bad thing? The real question at the heart of this is that many Millennials feel a subversion of authority and a lack of respect for tradition and process. Even if this is indeed the case, why don’t we harness that ambition and help them find ways to channel it appropriately. Consider giving them a voice at the table, look for ways to incorporate their ideas into the organization.
Let’s look at the pros of hiring Millennials:
- They’re technologically savvy
- They bring new perspectives
- They want to learn
- They want to work on initiatives that have impact
- They want employers to provide them with autonomy and purpose
- They want to be engaged
- They are eager
The notion that Millennials aren’t ready for the workplace is nonsense. Maybe, the workplace isn’t ready for the Millennials. We’re seeing massive shifts take place in the way we work and are helping to raise our awareness of the need to shift more than just policies, but to fundamentally change our understanding of how work gets done. Perhaps our fear of hiring Millennials is rooted in the possibility that we’re holding on to the past and not embracing the future.
The question then becomes, how best to lead in this new environment with the next generation of workers coming into the fold. It’s simple, really, this isn’t rocket science. Millennials aren’t aliens in our midst. If you want to lead a multi-generational workforce, start to understand what motivates and drives your employees. Define a purpose for them, build paths of opportunity and create a space that allows for all people, across all generations to contribute their thoughts and skillsets. If you read the literature about leading Millennials, you hear all the time about giving them opportunity, providing them with training, and warning them of the dangers of social media. This is all true, to a point, but not every one of your Millennials is out there posting pictures of #drunkenbinges, not everyone is looking to rule the world, or the company. Most however, want to make a difference in some fundamental way. But, don’t we all?
Curtis has over 20 years of international experience in M&A post-transaction integration, enterprise change management, organizational effectiveness, talent management, and performance consulting as a practitioner, researcher, author, and speaker. Curtis has been a consultant and an employee with Fortune 100 companies in the industries of aerospace and defense, software engineering, consumer packaged goods, insurance and financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare.
Curtis' 10 years of military service in the United States Navy serve as a solid foundation of his expertise in strategic planning and tactical application of organizational development, change management, blended learning frameworks and integrated talent management to maximize organizational investments in human capital.