5 Myths and Realities of Millennials in the Workplace

In monthly CEO Nexus roundtables, we notice recurring topics that have broad application to CEOs. In January, Mark Brewer spoke about Millennials in the workplace, the myths surrounding them, and what leaders should know about managing a multi-cohort workplace. His PowerPoint and audio presentation are available in full for CEO Nexus members only in the Media Archive.

Many myths exist about having multiple generations in the workplace – especially when it comes to Millennials. As leaders, it’s important to understand what is fact and what is fiction. Though Millennials have a reputation for being self-centered or disloyal employees, their goals, passions, and workplace needs actually aren’t that different from Baby Boomers or Gen X employees.

This article references findings from an IBM report that breaks down the five common myths about Millennials in the workplace.

Myth #1 – Millennials’ career goals are different from other generations.

Millennials desire financial security, inspirational leadership, the opportunity to advance, clearly articulated business strategies, and performance-based recognition and promotions – just like Gen X and Baby Boomers. It’s not all about business social consciousness to them.

Myth #2 – Millennials always want constant acclaim.

Millennials want a leader who is ethical and fair. They think it’s less important to have a boss who recognizes their accomplishments. They value transparency in a company, so be prepared to share information about your organization and your strategy.

Myth #3 – Millennials are digital addicts who want to do everything online.

It’s true that Millennials are more immersed in technology and know how to utilize it better than other generations. But that doesn’t mean they prefer to do everything online. When it comes to learning new skills at work, they prioritize face-to-face contact over digital options.

Myth #4 – Millennials can’t make decisions without input.

There’s no data to support that Millennials are more likely to solicit advice at work than other generations. Both Millennial and Gen X workers have a desire to tap a variety of sources to inform their decisions – much more so than independent-minded Baby Boomers.

Myth #5 – Millennials don’t stay at a job for longer than 12-18 months.

Despite their reputation, Millennials value stability in their careers. According to the IBM study, 75% of Millennials said they’ve held their current positions for three years or more. In order to get them to stay, however, you’ll need to offer opportunities for career growth within your company. Keep in mind that lateral career paths can be just as valuable. As business becomes more interconnected and complex, it is wise to leverage and promote the technological and human resources that allow for strong collaboration in decision-making.

These debunked myths show that attracting and retaining the Millennial workforce isn’t all about generational clichés. Every generation looks for valuable career growth while maintaining the opportunity for a work-life balance.

Media Archive > Mark Brewer (link to members-only Media Archive)

IBM Institute for Business Value Report (PDF)

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