The Millennial Generation often gets a bad rap – deemed entitled, flakey and lackadaisical in the workplace by their elders. Despite this perception, research shows that young Americans posses many qualities that make them valuable workers.
For those that aren’t familiar with generational theory, “Millennials,” “the Millennials Generation” or “Generation Y” consists loosely of those born between the early 1980s and the year 2000. In their book, “Millennials Rising,” researchers Williams Strauss and Neil Howe describe millennials glowingly. They describe them as the next “hero” generation writing: “Over the next decade, the Millennial Generation will entirely recast the image of youth from downbeat and alientated to upbeat and engaged–with potentially seismic consequences for America.”
Of ourse, not everyone agrees. In an article for business site Inc.com Thursday, an entrepreneur gives five tips for working with millennials, all while describing the group as “cliquey,” “a complete disaster to manage” and with writing skills that are “beyond abysmal.”
But, 95 million strong, Millennials are a force with which the workplace will need to reckon. And while I may be a biased member of the group, I do think they possess qualities from which all employees can learn. Consider these Gen-Y-esque workplace habits:
Embracing Technology and Innovation
Baby Boomers view themselves as hard workers. In fact, a Pew study finds that members of the generation cite it as their primary identifier from others. The majority of Millennials, on the other hand, feel distinguished by their use of technology – not just for fun. Seventy-eight percent say that access to the technology makes them more effective at work. Experts agree that technology and innovation will have an increasingly important role in the global economy. So while the millennial’s dependence on devices can be off-putting to some, just consider it their preparation for the demands of what President Obama called the “a high-tech economy” in his 2013 State o the Union speech.
Embracing Other Generations in the Workplace
Millennials aren’t going anywhere. In fact they’re the future of the workplace. The generation is more numerous than any since the Baby Boomers, already representing a quarter of the workforce in the US and estimated to form half of the global workforce by 2020. Despite what some older workers have to say about their generational identity, millennials don’t share the beef. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 76% of millennials questioned said they enjoy working with older senior management and 74% said they were as comfortable working with other generations as with their own. With older workers retiring later and later, it’s more important that everyone get over the generational divides to bridge a gap between the economies of yesterday and tomorrow.
Willingness to Compromise
Finally, studies have found that members of Gen Y expect to climb the ladder at work quickly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re entitled- as many have suggested. Consider this: Research also finds that, compelled largely by a rough economy, millennials are willing to compromise on things most workers consider deal breakers. The report by PwC shows that 72% of millennials say they’ve made some trade-off to get work – largely in compensation, relocation and benefits. That’s despite being on track to becoming the most educated generation in American history. In a time when the workplace is becoming more competitive and the economy is still unsteady, perhaps we can learn something from their willingness to go back to school, freelance and be otherwise flexible.
Photo Courtesy, Victor1558.