Millennials are trying to shake a bad reputation. While every generation seems to be looked down on by the generation that came before them, when millennials first started entering the workforce, they faced a massive wave of backlash. Accused of being narcissistic, selfish, entitled, and generally immature, some business owners have thus far refused to make any significant millennial hires--and others have made it a point to publicly complain about the bad experiences they've had.
As you might imagine, the horror stories are only one side of it. While there are some shared qualities across the majority of the generation, there are also persistent stereotypes that only apply to a few. And for every bad quality exhibited by millennials, there's usually a good or neutral one to balance it out. Still, cultural perceptions have dictated the hire or avoidance of millennials for long enough--what does the data say about millennials in the workplace?
Actual Qualities of Millennials
Most of the things you hear about millennials are true--at least to some degree. According to research from PwC, a major human resources firm, Deloitte's 2015 Millennial Survey, and internal research from UpWork (oDesk), there are some key qualities of millennials that differentiate them from other generations:
One thing you'll notice from these statistics is that, with a few exceptions, the data is closer for millennials and non-millennials than you might have previously thought. A 9 percent jump--like how 71 percent of millennials compared to 62 percent of others favor their personal lives--is significant, but it represents a majority belief across the board.
The Major Obstacles
Knowing this, you can anticipate the major obstacles when it comes to hiring and managing millennials:
Even knowing these, remember that the gap between millennial and non-millennial generations is smaller than it seems on the surface--at least according to the data. There are some clear trends differentiating the generations, but not so dramatically that one is universally a better hire than another.
A Good Fit, or a Transformation?
Ultimately, hiring a millennial isn't that much different than hiring someone of any other generation. Focus on skillsets, personalities, and culture fits when you're going through different candidates, regardless of age. If you're concerned about the differentiating factors that distinguish millennial workers, like the demand for more flexibility and recognition, think about where your organization stands. Does it currently offer some degree of flexibility, or rewards for hard work, or a solid retention strategy? If not, are you willing to transform to embrace the latest generation?
You May Not Have a Choice
Even after reading this, you might have your mind made up about millennials. But you won't be able to keep millennials out of your organization forever. By 2020, millennials will make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce, and already, businesses are starting to transform to integrate them more seamlessly. The traditional workweek is starting to die, and strict rules about office conduct are starting to soften.
Obviously, it's up to you whether you want to hire a millennial or not, but try not to let your generational views get in the way of hiring an otherwise great candidate. Generational differences aren't nearly as dramatic as they're made out to be, and the wider your pool of candidates is, the more likely you'll be to find a perfect fit.