Millennials now make up a significant portion of the workforce so it’s time we address the myths and separate fact from fiction. Some people describe them as entitled, lazy and selfish individuals who always want to save the world. But is it true?
Before we start to judge, it’s important to take some time to understand the impact that every generation has on our work environment and culture.
Millennials are generally defined as those born between 1980-1993. If you haven’t already noticed, they now make up a significant portion of the workforce so it’s time we address the myths and separate fact from fiction.
As a business owner and employer, your perception of today’s Millennials is likely based on a combination of hearsay and infotainment news stories. In IBM’s multigenerational study of employees across 12 countries, Millennials are said to contribute significant value to the workplace. They seek the same things as their older colleagues. What sets their generation apart is their digital proficiency. When leveraged properly, this proficiency can be quite beneficial to the accounting industry. As a generation of digital natives, using the latest technologies and having access to instant communication and collaboration is simply second nature to them.
Despite these digital advantages, many myths still persist about Millennials in the workforce. Let’s take a look at a few.
Myth #1: Millennials have different expectations and career goals than the older generation
According to the IBM study, Millennials seek financial security and seniority just like older generations. They possess the same aspirations as their fellow Gen X (born 1965-1979) and baby boomer (1954-1964) employees. These three generations of employees typically all seek diversity and an opportunity to work with different people regardless of their age.
Myth #2: Millennials always want to be praised
From the Millennials’ viewpoint, a perfect boss is someone who’s fair, ethical and transparent. Let’s be honest, these are attributes we should all be seeking in our employer. It doesn’t really matter to Millennials whether they are always being recognised by their achievements or not. They simply seek to keep up with their older colleagues and to be treated equally in the workplace. Embracing diversity and collaboration is a key driver for Millennials.
Myth #3: Being digital addicts, Millennials do and share things online all the time.
A bit of perspective helps here. Millennials are the first generation to grow up entirely in what we now refer to as “the online world”. While they are excellent at interacting online, they don’t necessarily do everything virtually. They still value face-to-face connections and they specifically find face-to-face communication more effective when learning new skills. While Millennials don’t always know how to work smarter rather than harder (a skill we should all aspire to have), they would also choose to stay in their job when they feel a certain personal connection with their work colleagues. The drive for meaningful human connections is often misreported as Millennials feeling “entitled” in the workplace.
Myth #4: Millennials will find another job when they feel unfulfilled
Some employers think twice when hiring Millennials because they believe that they tend to immediately switch jobs when they are not satisfied or when they get bored. However, Millennials, Gen X’ers and baby boomers are all motivated by the same factors. Higher salaries and a quality work environment are sought after equally by all generations, not just the Millennials. The IBM study did show that Millennials do seek to make a difference, which is why having a “sense of purpose” defined as part of their job role is an equally important management technique that businesses should adopt.
Myth #5: Millennials won’t do extra work
It is important for Millennials to have a work-life balance. That means, that yes, they are willing to work hard to get their job done. But then, once they’ve put in the hours, they will choose to focus on other elements in their personal lives. This is not a trait that Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers should quickly dismiss. Actually having work-life balance is an important aspect of everyone’s career. Millennials might just be the first generation to get the balance right.
Millennials are our future
By 2030, it is expected that 75% of the global workforce will be Millennials. What makes them unique is the fact that they are the first generation of digital natives joining the workforce. 2030 is really not that far away. The myths surrounding Millennials need to be broken down and better understood by all. Business owners and leaders need to find ways to embrace them in their workplaces. Who knows? They could be the accounting, finance or payroll specialists that your business needs right now and in the future. Businesses need to create workplaces built on tolerance where all generations of workers can thrive with their given skills and talents. Millennials are destined to become the key talent needed to grow your accounting practice. Taking the time to better understand them and dispelling the myths will be key to your future business growth and profitability.
IBM Study: Myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths The real story behind Millennials in the workplace. Published by IBM Global Services. Copyright IBM Corporation 2015