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Are Millennial myths jeopardising business success?

Millennials often get a bad wrap and CHRIS RHATIGAN says business owners and managers that buy into generation stereotypes could be placing their organisations in danger.

A video has been making the rounds on social media lately. It features a smart-looking, hipsterish fellow in glasses named Simon Sinek.

Sinek is a marketing consultant, motivational speaker and self-proclaimed Millennial expert, and in the video, he discusses why businesses are finding Millennials – those born roughly between 1980 and 2000 – to be “unmanageable”.

He makes every typical complaint previously heard about Millennials and this might seem harmless enough on the surface. Sinek supports his argument with data and repeatedly states these issues aren’t the Millennial generation’s fault but make no mistake, these stereotypes are dangerous.

If retail business owners and managers start believing their Millennial employees are unmanageable, then they can end up blaming them for nearly anything that goes wrong within the organisation. Instead, owners and managers should be looking for ways to increase employee engagement among all workers – especially Millennials, who are becoming the dominant generation in the workforce.

What follows are the top five myths about the Millennial generation.

Myth #1 – Millennials are lazy
This claim is, well, lazy thinking.

The Economist reports that Millennials are more competitive than other generations, referencing a CEB poll that showed 59 per cent of Millennials stating that competition is what gets them out of bed in the morning compared to 50 per cent of Baby

Boomers – those born roughly between 1946 and 1965.

In addition, numerous studies indicate that Millennials are also more likely to consider career advancement opportunities when deciding if they should accept a job offer.

Myth #2 – Millennials are entitled
This is the ‘participation trophy’ fallacy.

Every Millennial child purportedly received a participation trophy regardless of how awful they were at soccer, ballet or the saxophone. The truth is that Millennials don’t expect instant success and surveys demonstrate that a majority of Millennials believe they have a lot to learn from their superiors.

Myth #3 – Millennials are addicted to technology
The Millennial who gazes into their smartphone searching for validation via social media is yet another tired stereotype.

A Nielsen study found that Baby Boomers are actually more addicted to technology than their younger counterparts. The survey, which analysed what age groups are most distracted by technology during mealtimes, showed Baby Boomers leading the way with 52 per cent.

Myth #4 – Millennials have been coddled since infancy
Oddly, Baby Boomer parents – who would be the alleged coddlers – often make this claim.

Millennials were supposedly told they could achieve their dreams and have anything they wanted, and yet a meta-analysis found most studies show no significant differences among generations. 

Myth #5 – Millennials are excessively idealistic
Sinek perpetuates the idea that Millennials are obsessed with ‘making a difference’ and are very impatient to do so.

This alleged idealism is said to make it difficult for them to accept the grind of working a job; however, a Journal of Business and Psychology study found that Millennials are more satisfied with work than Baby Boomers. They’re also less likely to job hop than other generations.

Baby Boomers will retire in the coming years and when they leave, Millennials will begin to take over leadership positions within businesses. Organisations that treat Millennials as equals and invest in leadership development will undoubtedly be well positioned in the future. 

Chris Rhatigan

is a journalist who writes on a range of business topics, including employee engagement and organisational culture.
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Tuesday, 23 April, 2019 01:58am
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