May 14, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Millennial Employees: Yay or Nay?

LazyAs with any business transaction, there are pros and cons to weigh when it comes to hiring a millennial. Some of the common myths about millennials that make recruiters hesitate to hire them include:

  • millennials lack the drive to put in the extra hours;
  • millennials have no work ethic;
  • millennials don’t respect authority;
  • and millennials don’t really want to “grow up” and join the “real world.”

Millennials are entering the workforce, and they are doing so quickly. But do Gen. Y’s cons really outweigh its pros? Let’s balance the scales by looking at what millennials can bring to the table — as well as where they have room to improve.

Pro No. 1: They’re Confident

Millennials have higher levels of confidence in their personal and professional abilities than many previous generations had. They’re also confident in their ability to succeed monetarily: roughly 77 percent of millennials believe they are equipped to address potential financial problems in the next 10 years. Moreover, only 40 percent say they are unsure they could measure the amount they will need to retire, compared to 54 percent of baby boomers who said the same.

Con No. 1: They Lack Literacy 

American millennials are the most educated generation in the country’s history, but, somewhat paradoxically, they are still lacking in “literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments compared to their international peers,” according to HR expert China Gorman.

However, this doesn’t mean that Gen. Y has little to offer your organization. Indeed, many companies have found it useful to integrate “reverse mentoring” programs in which younger woReadrkers coach older workers in the ways of new technology and trends. As Leslie Kwoh writes in The Wall Street Journal:

“In an effort to school senior executives in technology, social media and the latest workplace trends, many businesses are pairing upper management with younger employees in a practice known as reverse mentoring. The trend is taking off at a range of companies, from tech to advertising.”

To cope with the millennial skills gap, employers can try hiring employees as temporary or contract workers. Forty-two percent of organizations planned to hire contract workers 2014, and 40 percent of companies say those contractors will likely turn into full-time employees in the future. Such a hiring arrangement allows these novice workers to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their positions before they are hired as regular employees.

Pro No. 2: They’re Proud of Their Work

According to research from The Case Foundation and Achieve, 92 percent of employed millennials feel they are “actively contributing to a company having a positive effect on the world.” Additionally, 83 percent of millennials wants jobs with employers that will value their creativity. These findings show that millennials are attracted to and excel at organizations that value social causes and their employees. Millennials want to be proud of their work, and they’ll become excellent employees if they feel proud of what they do and the company for which they work.

Con No. 2: They Can Be Gossipy

Millennials like to share personal details and information with their coworkers. In fact, 67 percent admit to talking about their salaries, friends, and family issues with their coworkers. Does this talkative habit get in the way of productivity and company confidentiality?

CafeMillennials are a social generation; it’s simply in their nature to gab with coworkers as they attempt to make friends and become comfortable in their work environments. The millennial penchant for talk could actually be a good thing, given that connecting with coworkers can help build strong workplace cultures, and strong cultures can account for 20-30 percent of corporate performance.

Put millennials’ social skills to work by placing them in the social media or marketing department. They know how to talk to people, so let them use that knowledge to your advantage.

Pro No. 3: Millennials Can Help Build Strong Culture

The Achieve/Case Foundation research cited above found that millennials are more likely to take part in “cause work” — that is, work related to social causes — if their peers are involved. Millennials are fans of team-based service projects, which encourage coworker interaction and the strengthening of bonds between colleagues. Given their preference for teamwork, millennials can bring more collaboration to the office, further strengthening the company culture.

Don’t let the negative myths surrounding millennials steer you away from hiring them. Now that baby boomers are aging out of the workforce at an enormous rate, organizations across the world need young employees to step in and pick up where their forebears are leaving off. Look at millennials through a positive lens; appreciate the value they can bring to the workplace.

Read more in Employee Performance

Noelle Murphy is part of the content creation team at Red Branch Media, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that specializes in the HCM market. Noelle writes on all subjects recruiting- and HR-related, but specifically enjoys writing about wellness and workplace happiness.