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Millennials' work ethic is talked about often today — and everything boils down to one bottom line: This generation is overburdened with expectations.
They are expected to have achieved a steady career and to have hit personal milestones such as marriage, children, home ownership and have retirement planning all by a relatively early age. And if they have not hit all of these marks or are not seemingly on their way to checking them off, the tables are turned on them. They're called lazy, incompetent, uninterested, entitled and spoiled.
The reality is that as the world we live in now is not the same world it was 10, 20 or 50 years ago, and, truthfully, millennials have an impressive work ethic. But myths about millennials still (unfortunately) follow them into the office. Here’s a look at three of the biggest ones that need to be debunked:
If there’s one myth about millennials that everyone is quick to make a sweeping statement about, it’s ye olde “they’re bad workers.” In the context of this myth, they would rather text and take frequent breaks than put their nose to the grindstone and get the job done.
Contrary to this belief, millennials are actually incredibly productive employees. According to research found in a survey by Project: Time Off and GfK, millennials identify as "work martyrs" and they don't take PTO because of it. Unlike their older counterparts, younger generations are less likely to take paid time off and even feel guilty about requesting that time off. They are determined to show their dedication to their job and to the company for which they work, not wanting to be considered replaceable.
Millennials are perfectly fine with being viewed as workhorses, especially when one considers that many work a full-time job and additional side hustles like rideshare driving or freelance writing. If anything, millennials may obsess over work too much and dial back on their personal lives in favor of their professional ones, according to the Harvard Business Review. For these cases, it’s up to the employer to take notice and encourage them to pause and focus on self-care so that they can improve their work-life balance.
Since grade school, millennials have received gold stars simply for making it to class on time and trophies just for participating in sporting events. This abundance of awards earned back then doesn’t always translate to the workplace you’re at now. Some days, you’re totally rocking it with your workload. Others, you’re trapped in a rut that affects your performance and being criticized for it.
Criticism, especially when it’s delivered with nothing to back it up (like saying “I don’t like it” and leaving it at that), can be painful for anyone to receive whether they’re millennial employees or not. This is where the case for giving constructive criticism and feedback comes into play. This generation wants to keep learning. They crave hands-on experience so that it can add to their personal growth and help them continue climbing up the career ladder.
Millennials do not expect everything they do to be perfect during the first try, but they do want and value feedback so they can do a better job the next time.
When an employer treats a millennial well and with respect, they feel empowered to return the favor and stick around.
Companies that lose millennial workers often refuse to evolve with their needs, according to The Startup. If you’re worried that your own business may be causing millennials to quit, take the time to meet with your millennial employees and talk to them. Ask them what they need in order to be the most fulfilled version of themselves at work.
If it’s a more flexible schedule, consider allowing options for coming in earlier or later or see if a remote work opportunity can be arranged. If they need a more challenging workload, strategize initiatives together that they can take the lead on. Millennials will feel as though they have been heard, according to Money, and they will respect you even more for it, strengthening their loyalty and passion to the business.
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