Millennial Misconceptions: How You're Totally Wrong About This Generation

Co-founder and CEO, Fundera
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Do you believe, as many do, that millennials are an entitled, flaky and tech-obsessed generation? Turns out (surprise, surprise) we shouldn’t be so quick to give them such a bad rap.

Instead of buying into the stereotypes, we checked out some studies that went straight to the source -- millennials themselves -- to find out what they want (and don’t want) from their jobs.

Here are three myths that deserve busting.

Myth: Millennials are out for themselves, so don’t expect them to stick around for long. Contrary to the popular opinion that millennials think of themselves as "free agents," a study by employment site Monster.com found they’re more optimistic than Generation X or baby boomers about finding long-term careers that offer stability and financial security. Having grown up in an era of economic turbulence, millennials crave the idea of a career, not just a “job.”

So why do millennials leave? Research from PayScale and Millennial Branding, as well as Ernst & Young, found promotions matter hugely to this generation -- probably because they’re just starting out in their careers and are less likely to have reached a level they’re comfortable with.

Related: When Your Employees Are Millennials and Your Customers Are Boomers

Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management-consulting firm, backs this claim up when he says the top reason millennials leave a job is “lack of career opportunity.” According to their research, many millennials say that they’d be willing to stay at the same job for five years so long as they’re able to advance.  Schawbel suggests creating internal procedures to help younger employees advance and grow their career. Plentiful opportunities for training and mentoring, as well as regular feedback and reviews that focus on developing that much-desired career path, can help millennials stick around.

Myth: Millennials only want to work at Facebook or Google. Not true. Payscale and Millennial’s Branding’s research shows millennials actually prefer working for small companies, because, according to Schawbel, they offer “more flexibility, an opportunity to embrace their entrepreneurial ambitions and the opportunity to use social networks at work without strict corporate guidelines.”

For people looking to bring these young stars on board, use social media to reach out to millennial job candidates, and create an online presence that conveys your company culture as a fun, flexible and energetic place to attract Gen Y.

Myth: Millennials can’t tear themselves away from their smartphones or Facebook long enough to hold a conversation with clients or co-workers.  A Cornerstone study discovered that millennials -- often stereotyped as the always-on, tech-connected generation -- are actually more overwhelmed by technology in the workplace than Gen X or Boomers. In fact, they actually prefer to work in-person, rather than remotely.

Related: The Paradox of Generation Y

Millennials grew up in a world of mobile devices, social media and no boundaries between work and life. Sometimes, it can get a little overwhelming. Although this generation does value workplace flexibility and do expect to be able to work whenever and wherever they choose, the E&Y study found they’re more collaborative than any other generation.

Working in teams is easier (and more fun) when you’re all in the same room, so make sure you provide plenty of opportunities for your millennial employees to do what they do best: work together -- IRL (that’s “in real life” for you boomers).

Related: 5 'Bad' Millennial Traits That Are Actually Good for Entrepreneurs

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