What’s Right and What’s Wrong About Millennials

In another ten years, it’s believed that 75% of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials.  In other words, those who were born between 1981 and the present (also known as Digital Natives) will constitute the  majority of employed and contracted workers and entrepreneurs.

Many of them already have firmly entrenched views about work, and while some of those beliefs may be accurate, others are less so.  According to a study done at Bentley University, some surprising facts were uncovered about the upcoming generation of employables.

51% prefer communicating face-to-face, with email as a distant second at 19% and texting in third place at 14%

The reason face-to-face still ranks number one is because data collected in studies by Harvard Business School indicated that 1 of 2 negotiations conducted by email end in an impasse.  When negotiations are conducted in person, 1 in 5 negotiations end in an impasse.

This is because in emails far less information is shared and decisions are arrived at on limited knowledge and an incomplete understanding of what is being discussed.  In face to face negotiations, the tendency is to speak more freely to put all parties at ease whereas in digital negotiations, conflict tends to escalate more quickly with less successful resolution if there’s any resolution at all.

Additionally, email eliminates tone of voice and non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expressions, which can cause misinterpretation of intent, data, and more.  As Gregory Northcraft, professor of executive leadership at the University of Illinois, says, “Technology has made us more efficient but less effective.”  This is why relationships matter.

77% believe that flexible hours equals greater productivity

There are those who say that workers with flexible hours have greater job satisfaction than their counterparts with set hours.  This only happens when the goals for flextime employees are not only specific but action-oriented, with a measurable way to evaluate both the amount of work and the quality of the work completed over set periods of time.

The issue of debited (fewer hours worked) and credit (more hours worked) as applied against end results also impacts on whether there’s greater productivity involved with flexible hours.

When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer banned 12,000 employees from working from home on flextime back in February 2013, Silicon Valley balked at the business move.  For weeks after the announcement, Mayer’s critics insisted that working from home and flextime translated into more productivity from workers.  Eight months after Mayer’s decision, what was proved was that people are more collaborative and innovative when they work together which, in itself, means more productivity.

In fact, on of Yahoo’s senior directors has been quoted as saying that their workplace has become “a catalyst for energy and buzz.”  In other words, Yahoo proved that in their situation, there was a crucial positive impact in having employees working set hours at Yahoo’s offices.

89% regularly check work email during personal time

The downside to checking work email during personal time is that you are technically working for free unless your employer compensates you for doing so.  Unfortunately, some employers feel it’s a reasonable expectation of employees.

Back in 2010 when police officers filed a lawsuit over the issue, then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was quoted as saying that officers expecting to be paid for taking work-related phone calls from department issues Blackberries was “silliness.”  The Federal Labor Standards Act sees things differently.  And so did U.S. District Court Judge Sidney I Schenkier in 2013 when he gave clearance to a group of 53 detectives and others in the Chicago Police Department to proceed with the class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago.

Just because lots of people feel pressured into regularly checking work email or taking work phone calls during personal time without additional compensation doesn’t mean it should be happening at all.

16% expect to hold one job throughout their career

The interesting thing about this statistics that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that data indicates that the average worker stays at his or her job, on average, about 4.5 years before moving on, with 91% of Millennials staying in the same job less than three years.  That translates into between 15 and 20 jobs over the course of a career.

Job hopping … it’s the new normal for employees, with Millennials believing that this approach to employment will lead to greater job fulfillment according to a survey done by Net Impact in 2012.  Whether it’s referred to as shopping their dream job or vying for the shiny unicorn, what it translates into is a less stable workforce overall.

Employees searching for the next job hop aren’t likely to interview for a job that provides a financial lateral move.  Instead, they’re looking for employment that will raise their income, on average, by ten percent.  These days, the average pay raise per year is between three and five percent, so it’s easy to see why Millenials are job hoppers.

66% believe employers should limit social media usage

There’s a reason why so many Millenials believe employers should limit social media usage.  While there are those who will argue that social media usage is beneficial to the mental health of employees, social media usage in the workplace is a distraction that leads to decreases in both productivity and performance.

Additionally, studies have shown that employees who access social media during work hours may not necessarily take issues such as confidentiality as seriously as they should, and wind up disclosing confidential and/or proprietary information to third parties who have no right to that information.

Surely you jest, I hear some readers saying.  According to a study conducted by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute in 2009, the survey revealed that 14 percent of employees admitted to sharing confidential company information with third parties not entitled to the information, while another 6 percent admitted to sharing customer credit card data and Social security numbers, with another 6 percent admitted to transmitting protected information.

Is it any wonder that 2 out of 3 Millenials are believe that employers should limit social media usage to keep the flow in the workplace professional and productive?

50% say their generation is unprepared for the workforce due to a poor work ethic

Some of this is due to the fact that Millennials are, for the most part, disengaged.  The reality of what employment is versus what they thought it would be conflicts with what they are willing to do and the desire for instant gratification and immediate positive acknowledgment for work completed at every stage of a project.

Even Millennials realize that their generation of workers isn’t committed to their employers (with only 16 percent expecting to hold one job throughout their career), expect rapid career advancement, generally refuse to accept entry-level positions, and demand constant positive affirmations from employers.

Many of them readily admit to being self-absorbed, and state unapologetically that they value fun and their personal lives over responsibilities and employment.  For Millennials, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has collated data that proves that their labor force participation as teens hit records lows.  Those between the ages of 16 and 19 state outright that they don’t actively job seek because they don’t want a job.

According to a Pew Research study conducted in February 2010, Millennial priorities are somewhat skewed, with 20 percent expecting to own a home but only 15 percent seeing value in securing a high-paying job.  Millennials were also the only age group in the study that didn’t cite a work ethic as one of its “principal claims to distinctiveness.”  In fact, Millennials in the study defined themselves with labels that reference tech savvy, being liberal, and being smarter than other generations.

The survey also revealed that Boomers and Gen Xers took pride in identifying their strong values and morals whereas these terms were noticeably absent from the answers from Millennials.

Final Note

Does this mean that Millennials are a bad fit for business?  That’s up to each employer and contractor to decide for himself or herself.  What all this means is that Millennials aren’t your parents’ generation of employees, and they aren’t your grandparents’ generation of employees.  For that reason alone, it’s important to ferret out the employees that are best suited to your needs among the applications that flood — or don’t flood — your inbox when a job opening comes available in your business.

As Maya Angelou said:  When people show you who they are, believe them.

Believe them for one reason, and one reason only:  They know themselves far better than you do.

Elyse Bruce

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One Response to “What’s Right and What’s Wrong About Millennials”

  1. Weekly Round Up | ELYSE BRUCE Says:

    […] BUSINESS TUESDAYS:  What’s Wrong And What’s Right About Millennials? […]


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