I am a millennial by definition, so I might be biased. I can't go a day without seeing an article or hearing about generational diversity training at workplaces. If I were to get out the microfiche I have no doubt I'd find similar articles referring to the baby-boomers, which let's face it, were way worse that us - they were the hippies after all. Your business needs to stop lumping in all young people together and learn how to work with each individual. We all know deep down all this 'how to work with an entitled, lazy millennial spiel really means "I'm resentful of the young people at my company and I haven't kept up with the times so now I feel threatened by their skills". Let's discuss how we can fix the real problem, which again is not an entire generation being "entitled".
- Keep up your skills. No matter your industry this is a must. When I graduated college I thought 'finally, no more homework, tests, and learning!' - wrong! Now I like learning, even the boring stuff because I can feel accomplished when I better myself with new or improved skills. Tons of places like stackskills.com have low cost courses. There are free college courses online and when all else fails, youtube.com has almost every tutorial you can imagine. I read audiobooks while driving or working out as well, but I like to get ones that are narrated by the real authors. If you get comfortable and don't keep up, technology will pass you by and you will have no millennials to blame for your lack of effort.
- Don't whine about change. We all have at least one person who will gripe at every meeting because something is changing and surprise they hate it. Everyone else rolls their eyes and thinks 'shut up already so we can get out of here'. Get used to change and if you don't like what's changing then be the one making the changes. Volunteer for everything and I guarantee you will have some say in the changes that are made. Don't sit back and let everyone else decide on the changes and then cry about it.
- Earn their respect. This goes back to number one, but if an older coworker tells me they just can't understand basic functions on Microsoft Office I will lose a little respect for them. If you think millennials are throwing attitude your way maybe you haven't been pulling your weight, keeping up with skills necessary to do your job and you deserve their eye rolls. I had a coworker tell me they just weren't going to bother learning anything to do with Excel (we're not talking advanced functions) because they were retiring in the next decade. As you can imagine this creates more work for your millennial coworkers when they have to pick up your slack because you can't be bothered to learn the tools you need to do your work.
- Stop discouraging their enthusiasm. Yes, seasoned vets know some things just can't be done, right? Well maybe your jaded attitude is throwing them off. Let them dream they can make positive change, because it does happen. They certainly don't know everything but that doesn't mean their ideas are always bad. A fresh perspective can help your company if you let it. More importantly managers should encourage all employees to speak ideas freely and not put down people for trying to make things better or more efficient.
- Stop generalizing us. Yes, we are probably better at technology than you but no one likes being stereotyped. Don't assume the twenty-something new hire can run your social media marketing campaign. Don't assume we hate the phone or will only talk via text. We want to do a good job just like everyone else. If you think we are all entitled and need participation trophies just remember, it's the baby boomers who had the idea to hand out participation trophies because they couldn't handle not having the best kid on the team. All we cared about was getting ice cream after the game. Also we were six years old, and maybe t-ball isn't our strength okay? We are living at home more, but that's a financial reason, not an independence issue. It is also highly acceptable and tradition to live in multi-generation households in most of the world, and recently in the U.S. as well. Maybe we realized we don't need to go into massive debt for a huge house we don't use. If you are finding your millennial hires are not able-working adults that speaks more to your hiring efforts than a generalization of an entire generation. We are entrepreneurs, financially savvy, technologically skilled, and have great potential.
Stratus Search is a cyber security executive search firm, but we are happy to help you if you are having trouble attracting or retaining millennial talent. Sign up for our newsletter to get hiring and interviewing tips straight to your mailbox. Coming soon... "How to hire millennials"