While millennials are known for being masters of digital communication, too often they are stereotyped as being entitled, lazy, extrinsically motivated job-hoppers because they want flexible work hours, constant feedback and advice, and speedy promotions. As a millennial who is getting ready to graduate and enter the workforce, these characteristics can be damaging and generalize an entire generation into one category.
Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to a Pew Research Center Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau Data. My father is a baby boomer and my mother grew up in Generation X. It’s fascinating for me to observe the differences between my generation and others with respect to workplace values and behaviors.
For example, when I talk to my parents about their experiences, they tell me that showing loyalty to a company and employer was important when they entered the workforce. My mom, for example, stayed with one company for 10+ years and did not think twice about switching jobs, especially since she had a good relationship with her boss. When she entered the workforce, she was a young mom and worked extra hard to raise her kids while working full time. Always wanting to be perceived as serious and hard-working, my mother never had the courage to ask her boss to work remotely every now and then.
Like the generations before them, many millennials are also loyal, hardworking employees. However, because our generation values a work-life balance, we appreciate flexible work schedules that don’t require us to be in the office every day from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. If we are producing quality work and completing assignments on time, we believe it shouldn’t matter whether our work is getting done in the office or not.
It also has become less common for workers in my generation to stay with a company long term, especially if after a certain point they aren’t able to learn and grow without changing jobs.
As a millennial, I am hardworking, detail-oriented, and want to prove myself as a valuable employee from my first day on the job. While I want to solve challenging problems that require innovative solutions, I also value ongoing coaching and become even more motivated in response to clear and specific feedback.
Just because millennials grew up differently than those in previous generations does not mean we can’t be valuable employees and make an impact.