Debunking millennial myths

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Ever feel like the millennial generation gets a bad press? Workshy, entitled, disloyal. If you think that doesn’t ring true, you’re not alone.

IBM Talent and Change Services published a report this year titled Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths, which explored the habits and attitudes of Millennials, or Gen Y. They found that behind the stereotypes, there was a very different picture.

The full report makes for interesting reading, so we’ve taken a look at the most common myths about the Millennial generation and how these reveal that you can’t believe everything you hear…

Myth one: They don’t like being told what to do

Millennials are the pampered generation, showered with praise, who don’t like deferring to their seniors. Or so it is said.

In fact, research conducted by strategy and business showed that Millennials were more willing to defer to authority than Generation Xers and Baby Boomers. In their sample of 5000 respondents, the Millennials were more likely than the older generations to agree with statements such as “Employees should do what their managers tell them, even if they can’t see the reason for it.”

Myth two: They won’t be committed to a company

This particular assumption comes from the idea that younger people don’t follow the same career path structure as their predecessors – staying in a job long term in order to move up the corporate ladder.

This is most likely down to people forgetting their own habits when they were younger – previous generations changed jobs probably as frequently in their twenties as Millennials do, as they found their footing in the working world. IBM’s Myths report found that it was Gen X who were more likely to ditch a current employer for more money and a more innovative environment: 47%, compared to 42% of Millennials.

Myth three: They have little work ethic

Much that is written about Millennials and their values deems them to be less hard working than their Boomer and Gen X colleagues.

However, a lot of this conjecture actually comes from what Millennials say about themselves – the truth is, they are self-critical and hold the work ethic of their elders in very high regard. And yes, while they may place a high value on work/life balance, and environments that foster a culture of recognition and collaboration, this does not automatically mean they shy away from the harsh realities of the daily grind.

Myth four: They are too entitled

Millennials have supposedly grown up in a something for nothing culture, supported by parents into their adulthood, and surrounded by reality TV celebrities who appear to be famous for seemingly not doing very much.

Older Millennials began their careers in an extremely tough economic climate. They had to be prepared to work hard, often for very little or even zero financial remuneration. However the younger cohorts face similar challenges, in order to gain enough experience to enter an increasingly competitive job market. They know success doesn’t happen overnight, and to say they feel entitled to success is rather disingenuous.

Here’s an interesting statistic: Millennials are more likely to share a link to work or study related topics than to celebrity news, suggesting that they value their work  more than they are given credit for.

Myth five: They waste all their time on social media

Being the first generation to grow up in the digital age immediately brings the stereotype of distracted timewasters, shunning direct conversation while they Instagram their lunch and tweet cat GIFs.

Firstly, who doesn’t love a good cat GIF, regardless of age?

Secondly, when it comes to communication, Millennials, are simply more at ease using the vast range of channels at their disposal, and still place high value on face-to-face interaction. Plus, as digital is and always has been a big part of their lives, the novelty factor doesn’t exist. This means they are more likely to distinguish professional and personal realms of social media use, and exercise discretion within the workplace.

Kayleigh Ziolo is a freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland.

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