I am a (older) milliennial. So that means I’m adaptable, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial, a multitasker...as well as lazy, entitled, and a job hopper. I’d say some of those traits ring true to me personally. I also know some Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who have some of these tendencies too. A recent study showed that millennials prefer being physically present in the workplace versus telecommuting. This could also be true for most extroverts (who make up 50-74 percent of the population), regardless of age.
Yes, I’m a millennial because I fit within the age demographic. I am also female, am one of four children (shared the middle), grew up in Buffalo (go Sabres!), and started working at 15 (shout out to my first W-2 provider, Fowler’s). I think those aspects of my life also influenced my work ethic and preferences, in addition to the year I was born. I also hardly think I have similar wants and needs as someone 10 years younger than me (also a millennial).
While the stereotype might exist, millennials have individual traits too. The answer to the question of the blog post title doesn’t necessarily need to be a “yes” or “no” because I think there are enough variances in millennial traits that no company exists to suit all millennials. The question should be, rather, “how millennials fit your company culture.” And this doesn’t mean your culture needs to change.
Your culture is your culture, regardless of the age of your employees. It’s inevitable you are going to have to hire (or already employ) millennials. Rather than changing your message to appeal to what you think a millennial might like, think about what your culture means to a millennial. For example, if flexibility is part of your company culture, that might mean that a 42-year old mother of two can leave work at 2:30pm to pick up her kids from school and sign back online at 8pm after the kids go to bed. For a millennial, that might mean that he can fly home to visit his parents for fours days without taking vacation time – he can simply work remotely. Your culture remains intact, and it now means something tangible to the different demographics who make up your workforce.
I want it to be known that I don’t discount the research done on millennials. AND I think a lot of our differences generally come from the timeless friction of young versus old. I’ve been on a Wonder Years kick (thanks Netflix!), and the same friction between age groups existed then even though it was during a completely different era. The context may be different, but the bottom line is, a 20 year old has different priorities than a 30 year old, a 30 year old has different priorities from a 40 year old, and so on.
Don’t let our (supposed) tendencies scare you from seeking out millennial talent. There’s more to us than a stereotype, and we might actually have some good ideas too.
Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.