Millennial myths

Results of our employee survey show that many of the conventional beliefs about younger workers may not be true. Millennials—who made up half of employee survey respondents—are thought to care more than older workers about making a positive difference in the world through their work, achieving work/life balance, and leaving for their next job—none of which may be accurate. It isn’t that Millennials don’t care about these things—it’s that other workers care just as much.

But Millennials do need to be managed differently in terms of feedback and development. Nearly one-third say they expect more feedback than they currently receive, and without the advantage of having many years’ worth of contacts, they rely on mentoring and development at work instead of outside the organization.

Accommodating Millennials’ desire for more feedback and development opportunities would not just satisfy Millennials—it would help push companies forward and prepare for the workforce of the future.


2020 Workforce news roundup

Debunking the myth that jerk bosses get results (FastCompany): Bosses like Steve Jobs and Gordon Ramsey earned notoriety for their harsh treatment of employees—and plaudits for getting results. This article argues that such leaders are successful in spite of, not because of, their attitudes.

The skills leaders need at every level (Harvard Business Review): When HBR asked 332,860 bosses, peers, and subordinates what skills are most important to a leader’s success, the top qualities were very consistent, suggesting that the core competencies required of leaders do not change as they move up the corporate ladder. Developing those traits throughout your career, and always preparing for the skills you’ll need at the next level, may be a key to success.

Employees using social media before making any career move (The Economic Times): A new Kelly Services report says that employees are increasingly using social media to learn specifics about companies, including workplace conditions and reputation, before putting in applications.

Millennials at Work: Young and Callow, Like Their Parents (The New York Times): Many think that Millennials are unprepared, lazy, and difficult to manage—but that doesn’t make them any different from the generations that preceded them.

More on Millennials in the workforce

As our 2020 Workforce surveys head toward completion, one the more interesting preliminary findings is that Millennials, however different they may be from older workers in some ways, are a lot like them when it comes to workplace topics – and their bosses may not understand these similarities and differences very well. More on those topics soon.

Meanwhile, another look at the generation entering the workforce: Bentley University’s program to prepare recent graduates for the job market. Built on a survey about “the ‘why, what, and how’ behind the millennial generation’s challenges in the 21st century workplace,” the PreparedU program looks to help younger workers succeed in their careers as well as inspire leaders in education and business to encourage and support them as they enter the workforce.

You can see a slideshow here:

2020 Workforce news roundup

Enough about Introverts: Mastering the Way to Work with Extroverts (FastCompany): The work styles and preferences of introverts have been a popular topic in the news recently, but even introvert advocate Susan Cain (author of Quiet) recognizes that more outspoken employees need quiet time and focus, too.

A Job Description Written for Exactly One Person (The Atlantic): Santa Clara University recently published a job posting so specific, only one person was qualified—the current man in the position.

Nearly half of Millennials aren’t saving for retirement (Baltimore Business Journal): According to a recent Wells Fargo survey, 47% of Millennials are putting at least half of their paychecks toward debt, but they aren’t able to save for retirement—suggesting that companies looking to hire younger workers should consider offering simple financial plans and advice to their employees.

Remember that aging workforce the feds kept talking about? Well, it’s still a problem. (Washington Business Journal): A new survey of federal CIOs shows that the federal workforce is still dealing with the threat of an aging workforce and their inability to attract younger employees to replace them.

What do Millennials want?

One focus of our research program is understanding the way companies are planning for and responding to Millennials entering the workforce—and identifying gaps in thinking between Millennial employees and executives.

In November 2013, SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott gave a keynote speech on the Millennial workforce at the Northern Virginia Technology Council.  As reported in this post from Lindsey LaManna, McDermott explored some shared characteristics of Millennials—including their focus on digital technology and desire for meaningful careers— and outlined the ways companies can create a culture that appeals to them.

As proven by the wealth of articles arguing over what Millennials really want and how they compare to generations that preceded them, assessing the characteristics and capabilities of an entire generation is no simple task. But as difficult as it is for companies to plan for these new employees, they are already thinking about Post-Millennials—those born around the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s nearly impossible to assign characteristics to a generation of which the oldest members are currently only 14, but companies are beginning to speculate on what will matter to this group when they enter the workforce, and how they will contribute.