Millennials aren’t the new workforce, they are the workforce, according to Pew Research Center. According to Forbes, millennials today have over $200 billion in annual purchasing power, which makes them major players in the economic future of the country at both ends of the buyer-seller spectrum.
Now that this highly connected, technology-infused generation accounts for the majority of those with jobs, it behooves businesses to take advantage of the skill sets that this generation has to achieve company goals — goals which have shifted seismically in response to the same millennials they’ve hired, who are also doing the purchasing today and will be the majority of the marketplace tomorrow.
Don’t Underestimate Them
Many myths abound surrounding the millennial generation, and the perpetuation of these stories keeps employers from fully taking advantage of Gen. Y’s abilities to better the company.
One of the more persistent myths is that millennials are lazy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Millennials aren’t lazy: they just fundamentally believe that things should be easier than they were for the previous generation. This isn’t a defect — it’s a better perspective.
Millennials don’t want to do more work than needed — because who does? While a baby boomer or Gen.-X employer might view email as the technological standard, a millennial sees it as a digital step backwards from texting, which is faster, easier to organize, and can convey information more fastidiously in most cases. Employers should consider allowing more smartphone use at work, or at least stop viewing it as a distraction from work. After all: there is a strong chance that any smartphone activity is actually business related.
They’re Just as Creative as You Are
Another myth that the millennials have had to shoulder is the notion that they merely recombine the things that came before their generation. The implicit accusation is that they can’t come up with anything new. But rock and roll didn’t spring up out of nowhere: it’s a combination of blues and gospel music, which grew out of other genres themselves. In truth, nothing is ever really “new” in the sense that people like to imagine it is. Everything is a recombination of the things that came before it.
Mark Zuckerberg is a millennial, and no one can say that Facebook isn’t innovative. Despite that, Myspace came before it, and social networks have existed for some time — if only in offline formats previous to this generation.
Employers who want to tap into this creative capacity of the millennials should first stop viewing their younger counterparts diminutively and instead allow them the same access to ideas and forums for expression that are available to more senior members of the company. Given the chance, the creativity of this generation will shock employers.
They Believe In Loyalty, Too
One of the most gruesome myths that Millennials have had to deal with is the notion that they are short-timers who will only be at a company until they get another offer for slightly more. In truth, there are two different kinds of employees: those who chase the job, and those who chase the paycheck. This has been true for all previous generations as well, and there is no reason for millennials to be burdened with this status singularly.
Beyond this, the time period in which millennials have had to grow up has been one of the most financially tumultuous since the Great Depression. Who can blame a millennial for hopping jobs when the ones that existed for some time were part time, low paying, and menial in nature? It’s no wonder that millennials with any sense did their best to weather these times in any way they could, which involved job hopping and always keeping their eyes out for better opportunities that might pay them enough to eat — and not have to do so at the same fast food place they were employed at.
All told, there are a number of misconceptions that have stymied the growth of the millennial in the traditional workforce, but these perspectives are eroding and change is being made. Fortunately, Luddites don’t run successful businesses, and those that do will quickly see the many benefits of better utilizing the millennial workforce to achieve company objectives.