When the label "Millennial” first appeared, most Millennials weren’t yet born. That label was coined for a 1992 book by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss, Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069.
Since then, Millennials have been drawn with some pretty broad strokes, and the characterizations haven’t always flattering -- or accurate. But with this group comprising 75 percent of the workforce in ten years' time, there’s no time like the present to understand this integral part of your company’s future for a more productive and innovative workplace. Take a look at these common myths to better understand the reality that’s facing your team and your leaders.
Myth: Millennials are all really young.
Reality: While boundary lines vary, most demographers agree that this generation begins in 1980 ending in in the late-90s to mid-2000s. So, while some Millennials can’t yet vote or drive, the oldest of this group are 35, and have been holding down jobs, advanced degrees, and their own families for some time now.
Read more: 5 Ways Millennials Are Like No Generation Before Them
Myth: Millennials are job hoppers.
Reality: Not really. New data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that job security has been a moving target for decades. Their numbers show that older Baby Boomers (those born between 1957 and 1964) held almost a dozen jobs between 18 and 48. And what’s driving the job shifts isn’t boredom, but shifting opportunity, and that’s a constant across generations. According to a study conducted by IBM, roughly the same amount of Generation X-ers (47 percent), Millennials and Baby Boomers (42 percent), said they’d leave their job for a chance work in a more innovative office with higher pay and more benefits. And really, all things being equal, who wouldn’t?
Read more: What Millennials Want in a Workplace Really Isn't So Crazy After All
Myth: Millennials can't function without social media and smart devices at work.
Reality: In a study from Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., more than half of the cohort the researchers polled said that they would prefer to chat in person with their coworkers, followed by e-mail (19 percent) and then texting (14 percent). And 66 percent recommended that employers put a limit on social media in the workplace.
Read more: This Is How Millennials View Work (Infographic)
Myth: Millennials need their hands held.
Reality: Employees entering the workforce don't want to be coddled. But they do expect constructive, consistent feedback. Managers would do well to organize the offices they lead around mentorship, giving colleagues a chance to collaborate and learn from one another in perhaps unexpected ways, instead of sticking to top-down and opaque leadership.
Read more: 5 Ways for Boomer Managers to Motivate Millennial Workers
Myth: Millennials aren’t interested in paying their dues.
Reality: All employees want to feel like they are making a valuable contribution in their job. The word entitlement is thrown around a lot when it comes to Millennials – but these young employees want to share their sensibility (which can often include flexible work schedules, the application of new technology, the chance to collaborate across departments) to make their companies more efficient and innovative, not make it somehow easier for them to slack off.
Read more: 4 Things to Know to Effectively Lead Generation Y