Did you know by 2020 millennials will make-up 50 percent or more of the workforce? It is an alarming statistic if you buy into the negative stereotypes that exist around this generation, born between 1977 and 1995.
They are “easily bored” so they job-hop. They are “entitled.” They are “lazy.” Certainly, in some cases, millennial-age employees bear out the negative stereotypes but I would caution those who comprise the ‘older’ generations to let these negative stereotypes shape your impression of every 22– to 40-year-old.
There is no doubt this generation of young adults approaches their professional pursuits differently than the generations before them. Their life experience informs that. Their parents are of the Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) and Gen X (born 1965 – 1976) generations who want their children to be happy and have a better work life balance than they have had.
That does not mean millennials don’t want to work hard, but experts say it is why at least in part millennials are not as concerned about financial success as they are finding fulfillment. They value collaboration and in many cases thrive on it. They also desire flexible work hours and know how to leverage technology to make that possible.
It is not just about how they were raised either. The economy has played a part in shaping them, too. While there are ample jobs, wages compared to cost of living have delayed the timing of when millennials buy their first home, when they start a family and other life decisions that have a significant financial impact. So, it may take a little longer but many millennials are realizing the same traditional adulthood milestones as the generations before them.
They are also gaining real traction in the workplace. Not only are millennials representing a larger portion of our workforce, but also their influence on the workplace is proving to be significant. We often think of influence coming from the top down in the workplace where seasoned workers influence the newcomers. The opposite is happening in today’s technology driven environment with millennials who do not know a world without the Internet coaching and mentoring the older employees on how to leverage digital-age tools to be successful.
Much like the rest of the country, our region faces a workforce crisis where demand is outpacing supply. Each generation possesses specific skill sets and perspectives that should be acknowledged, respected and treated as strengths.
We cannot afford to discount the value, importance and impact millennials can have in the workplace.
For that matter, they are your customers, too. They are worth a second look because businesses won’t succeed without them.
Kenny Rambo is senior vice president at Heartland Communications Consultants and chairman of the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce. He might be a millennial, too (just barely). Kenny can be reached at email@example.com.