Are Millennials really any different to Generations before?

Millennials ReputationWe hear the term all the time but what exactly is a millennial ?

If you were born between the early 1980s to the mid-1990s then you are tagged with the term ‘millennial’. You are in a group of people who were the first graduating class of 2000.

Millennials are often cited as being more self-assured than past generations, they will also typically have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a healthy work-life balance and have socially liberal views. But Millennials are also being talked about in less favourable terms within businesses and seen as, amongst other things, as needy, demanding and expectant.

Before I continue, I should point out that as much as I would like to be, I am not a millennial. I was born in the 70s, I am generation X, this is not sun bleaching in my beard, it is grey! But following a recent Reward & Mobility Think Tank on the subject of ‘Incentivising and Retaining Millennials’ it really got me thinking. Is this generation any different, are they doing anything wrong and, more to the point, should we not be embracing the positives that this generation brings?

What is so ‘wrong’ about a millennial’s behaviour?

  • They are just ‘job hoppers’ who will move from company to company with no loyalty…

This generation have seen their parents be loyal to their employer by staying in long terms roles, yet treated like disposable assets with never ending business changes and redundancies. If businesses don’t buy into lifetime careers then why should the individual?

Millennials are intelligent, driven, dynamic individuals. If you as a business do not provide them with interesting, challenging roles with clear career projection, then they will be uninspired and seek this from other organisations.

As a recruiter I look at a slightly depressing number of CVs! One thing I can tell you is it isn’t just Millennials changing companies every 18-24 months. With more and more roles being seen as projects and career stepping stones it is people of all ages taking this approach

  • They have an infatuation with wanting flexible working…

Well it’s not laziness! Surely this is common sense. Yes previous generations worked 9 till 5 in the office, but not through choice. I’m sure generations before would also have liked to have seen more of their family. The issue used to be more a lack of tools to offer an alternative. Millennials have grown up with technology and know how to work remotely achieving the same and if not arguably better results. Mums and Dads both have careers and flexible working allows for everyone to win.

With social media blurring the lines of work colleagues and external friends; relationships, teams and camaraderie can still remain strong.

  • They feel career progression is their right… 

Is that really a surprise? I and most of my friends come from the generation before and… hold the press…. we wanted promotions and more money and more recognition as well. Surely this is just a characteristic of young, dynamic, driven professionals of any generation.

We should also remember the world is a faster place than it used to be. We are constantly being told that computers, AI and robots will replace us in the near future, so why shouldn’t someone be in a hurry to make their way as quickly as possible..?

Want to get on the property ladder? Well, if our millennials need to be earning on average an eye watering £35,000 per annum just to get onto the property ladder, wouldn’t you be pushing hard for a salary increase or promotion in their position?

So shouldn’t you embrace your millennial workforce and take advantage of the positives?

Statistics say that over 70% of millennials believe they could teach their boss a thing or two about how to get the job done. A good manager should harness this view. Set projects and challenges to utilise this thinking and, most of all, involve them in your business as much as possible.

These people are not aliens; let’s not forget that there have been driven, needy, determined, challenging, intelligent, demanding employees since the very inception of HR!

Rob Bascombe

Written by , Business Manager

Twitter: @RB_OasisHR

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