The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2025, millennials will make up almost half of the workforce in the United States. As common as millennials are in the workplace, many companies struggle to understand them. Who are millennials, what are they looking for in life and work, and how can companies work with them and help them thrive?
I can tell you firsthand, as a millennial myself, that our workplace needs are really not that complicated. We may seem alien to Generation X and Baby Boomers, but the fact is, every generation is a little different from the ones before it. For example, one thing that sets us apart is that we grew up with the internet, iPhones, and social networking, so we are used to communicating continuously and having access to the latest technological tools to assist with our work.
Here, I’ll give you my perspective on three common myths about millennials in the workplace.
Myth: Millennials only want to work in a fun office with crazy perks.
Fact: While anyone would enjoy snoozing in a nap pod or playing ping pong in the office, what really matters for millennials is the company culture. We thrive in cultures where people work collaboratively, where we can do work that makes a positive impact on others, and where our opinions are heard.
To sum up, if my company’s culture was not up to par, free snacks would not be enough to keep me there.
Myth: Millennials are an entitled generation, and we think we deserve high pay and perks.
Fact: We want to be viewed as equals, not looked down upon for being young or new to the office. We want to be paid based on our skills and the quality of our work, not how long we’ve been in the workforce.
Although we have less experience than older colleagues, we have useful skills and fresh thinking that can help companies grow and innovate. For example, large tech companies offer fresh-out-of-school developers huge salaries for their expertise!
As for perks, we really value a flexible schedule and the ability to work remotely now and then. We’ll put in a full day of work, but prefer that it’s not 9 to 5 every day. Let us start our day a little later or earlier and find the best way to manage our work/life balance.
Myth: Millennials seek constant gratification for doing the bare minimum.
Fact: Millennials desire frequent feedback, as it helps us grow and improve our work. When we do something well, do not hesitate to let us know. Small wins motivate us to keep up the good work and perform even better next time!
And yes, some of us become frustrated when asked to do tedious tasks, but only because we’d rather spend our time on meaningful tasks that utilize our talents and skills.
About the author
Marsha is a student at University of California, Berkeley, and an intern at Nua Group, an HR strategy consulting firm. She is passionate about making a difference in the world through volunteering, serving on the Philanthropy committee of the Pi Beta Phi fraternity for women and participating in events to support childhood literacy. She served as the finance officer for CalTV, UC Berkeley's television station.