Full disclosure: I received a pre-release copy of the book 2 Billion Under 20 mentioned in this article.

When it comes to the future of business in this country–generally speaking–few topics are as polarizing as millennials in the workforce. Love them, hate them…they’re making a splash in a big way. Baby boomers and Generation X-ers sometimes call them lazy, entitled, or narcissistic, but the truth is millennials are simply different. They don’t readily conform to the same cut-and-dry career paths of their parents’ generation. Instead, they dare to be different. While that may sit wrong with you, it’s time to get over your preconceived notions and understand exactly what this generation’s identity is and how they’re planning on drastically impacting the workforce moving forward.

Time to Start Thinking Differently

In their co-authored book titled 2 Billion Under 20, Stacey Ferreira and Jared Kleinert attempt to shed a little light on how big of an impact millennials are already having around the world. It presents stories of 75 ambitious millennials in their pursuit of changing the status quo, making a difference, and thriving under the stigma of laziness and entitlement. Young entrepreneurs in their own rights, Ferreira and Kleinert share stories of YouTube sensations, Olympic athletes, musicians, business owners, and everyone in between. While it’s not a comprehensive look at everything the millennial generation is doing, it provides enough of a taste to leave you wanting more.

After reading just small excerpts of the book, you’ll realize that it’s time to start thinking differently about millennials. While they may be brash–and at times come across as entitled or out-of-place–the reality is that this generation understands the problems and needs that face the world today and have a track record of successfully tackling them in creative ways. These are people that business owners can extract value from.

Getting a Proper Gauge on Millennials

Millennials currently account for the largest percentage of the American workforce, while simultaneously accounting for 21 percent of all consumer discretionary purchases in the marketplace. Furthermore, 53 percent of millennial households have children–meaning they’re thoughts and viewpoints are being directly transferred to members of the next generation. All of this to say millennials hold the power on both the buying and selling sides of the equation.

However, we’re at a weird junction right now where millennials make up the largest percentage of the workforce, but they haven’t totally infiltrated executive leadership positions. Aside from the entrepreneurs and startup owners, most still find themselves working beneath baby boomers and members of previous generations. So, who better to ask about millennials than those they work for/with?

According to a 2015 study commissioned by Millennial Branding and Elance-oDesk, 53 percent of hiring managers claim it’s difficult to find and retain millennial employees. This is pretty accurate, as 58 percent of millennials say they expect to leave their jobs in three years or less. This fact certainly aligns with other data accrued in the study, as millennials–when compared to generation x-ers–are described as more adaptable, entrepreneurial, and open to change.

Essentially, millennials don’t want to climb the corporate ladder. And while it makes sense that baby boomer executives who spent their entire careers climbing up the ladder to reach the positions they now hold would be frustrated that those coming after them aren’t pursuing the same paths.

Millennials Want to Do New Things

Research shows that 79 percent of all millennials have a desire to travel to all 50 states. Seventy-five percent want to travel abroad as many times as possible, while 70 percent have a desire to visit all seven continents during their lifetime.

While these statistics may not seem directly related to the relationship between millennials and the American workforce, the data is ultimately indicative of the fact that millennials want to move around and see new things. The majority isn’t satisfied with sitting in one place forever. Corporate loyalty isn’t as important to millennials as it is to their parents.

As a hiring manager or business owner interested in hiring millennials, you have to understand this affinity for change. It’s not that millennials don’t respect your company or enjoy working hard. In fact, millennials (as a whole) are willing to put in the long hours. Instead, this desire for change is related to their desire to make a difference.

‘Let’s Change the World’

“I have this image of people between 18 and 30 years old as isolated from the world, not having relationships with each other,” says Alfredo Timmermans, CEO of Telefonica International. “I was surprised to see how they see themselves as really integrated in the world, in their own communities.”

Timmermans is referencing a survey that studied 12,000 millennials in 27 different countries. While the survey touched on a lot of different issues ranging from economic prosperity to environmental issues, the most interesting takeaway was that millennials want to–and believe they can–change the world.

A hefty 62 percent of respondents believe they can make a difference in their local communities. An impressive 40 percent believe they can have a global impact. “There’s a sense of optimism about this younger generation,” says Timmermans. “We are really optimistic about the values of society in the future, the ability to be making a difference in the rest of the world.”

3 Reasons to Hire Millennials

Does any of this information change your opinion about the millennial generation? Do you have a little better understanding of why they tick the ways they do? While they may come off as narcissistic and out-of-touch, you have to peel back the layers and see them for who they really are. They’re ambitious, driven, open-to-change, and hell-bent on making an impact. If you were to ask Ferreira and Kleinert what they learned after writing 2 Billion Under 20, you’d probably get a lot of different bits of information. However, they’d undoubtedly leave you with this takeaway: Hire millennials! Here are a few reasons you should probably accept that advice:

They’re ambitious.
They’re well-read.
They’re innovative.

Ultimately, you need to hire millennials because they’re your best option going forward. By 2018, they’ll make up 50 percent of the workforce. By 2025, they’ll account for 75 percent of it. By changing your notion of who the average millennial is today, you can better prepare yourself for tomorrow. And that tomorrow is pretty bright, by the way.

Published on: Jul 30, 2015