It’s hard to think of a generation of people that have been more written about than millennials. As this cohort has begun to enter the workforce en masse, there has been no end of commentary on their supposed digital prowess or sense of entitlement.
A recent IBM study set out to get to the heart of the matter. It found that most of the myths that have developed around millennial employees are rather bogus. Whether it’s their career goals, how they want their leaders to behave or the recognition they desire, the study revealed that millennials aren’t that different to the rest of the workforce.
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The report, produced by the IBM Institute for Business Value, examined five of the most commonly held views of millennials to see if there was any truth behind the myth. The aim was to shed away some of the mystery and help managers begin crafting a workplace that is fit for a generation that will make up roughly half of the workforce by 2020.
Five Millennial Myths
- Millennials have different career goals - the study found no evidence for this, with millennials wanting many of the same things as older colleagues, such as a diverse workplace and financial security.
- Millennials need constant praise - whilst millennials love praise (don’t we all?), they really want a boss that is fair and ethical, with 35 percent of millennials (and baby boomers) naming this as their top trait in a perfect boss. Few, it seems, want a boss that regularly asks them for their opinion.
- Millennials are digital addicts - there is a perception that millennials don’t know the difference between work and play when it comes to digital things, but the study found that this was more likely to be the case with older employees. Millennials were found to be much less likely to use their personal social media accounts for work.
- Millennials have to consult everyone before making a decision - while millennials did seek advice and input from peers, they were no more likely to do so than their older colleagues. What’s more, despite the preference for collaborative decision making, around 50 percent believed the leader was best placed to make the call.
- Millennials will job hop at the drop of a hat - again, there wasn’t much of a difference here, with millennials moving jobs for much the same reason as older generations. What’s more, they were not any more likely to jump ship to follow their passion than older colleagues. Indeed, it emerged that older employees are probably more likely to move jobs to advance their careers than millennial workers.
A Millennial Workplace
The report provides a telling reminder that we shouldn’t rely on stereotypes when trying to serve our workforce. IBM suggest that a better approach is to use analytics and a nuanced talent strategy to gain a better understanding of the individuals in your workforce, and then craft your talent strategy accordingly.
What do you think of the findings? Are you a millennial yourself, and if so, do you agree with the results? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.