The Real Problem With Millennial Employees

Much has been written about the differences between the Millennial generation and other generations. It’s true that there are differences and some of those differences are substantial. 

 

It’s also true that there are more similarities between Millennials and other generations than there are differences. Millennials have similar career goals. They share many of the same values especially when it comes to leadership values.  They change jobs for many of the same reasons as their parents and grandparents did. 

 

Despite an opinion that is way too popular, Millennials are not slackers. Far from it actually. They work as hard and long as most baby boomers. They care just as much, they are as passionate or even more passionate about what they do and how they do it than the average baby boomer. 

 

One key difference is a desire for more flexibility. They don’t want flexibility in order to do less work. In fact it’s the contrary; they want more flexibility to be able to weave their work and personal lives together. They are willing to work long hours, they just want a little more freedom to choose which hours they work. 

 

This presents challenges for organizations that have Millennials in customer facing positions. But the reality is that too many baby boomer leaders/managers simply want to control which hours their people work. They feel that way because when they were rising through the ranks their work hours were determined for them. That’s old thinking. That’s expensive thinking too!

 

Here is some more old thinking and it’s even more expensive thinking. 

 

Most companies encourage their new employees to spend their first few years in the organization learning the ropes. It makes perfect sense because very few entry level employees know how to apply their “school knowledge” to real life work situations. 

 

The problem with that mindset of allowing  less experienced employees time to learn the ropes leads many managers/leaders to assume that their Millennial employees have too little to offer when compared to more experienced employees. 

 

But Millennials have much to offer. They are technologically savvy. They are nonlinear thinkers who don’t know that “something has always been done that way.” Millennials are willing to try new technology and are particularly adapt at exposing “group think.” I have to admit “group think” is often prevalent with my baby boomer generation. 

 

If you’re a leader of Millennials today you must be willing to risk allowing them more input into as many areas of your organization as possible. Yes, they have a lot of growing to do but that doesn’t mean they can’t help more experienced people grow in new areas at the same time.

 

People like me can learn so much from Millennials that sometimes I wish I was one. (But then I come to my senses) 


It turns out that the real problem with Millennials is more a of problem FOR Millennials. They have the ability to move slower companies into the future at a much faster pace. They only need to be given the chance. 

4 thoughts on “The Real Problem With Millennial Employees

  1. Jane Henderson says:

    I love working with Millennials! It is a gift to work with Millennials. They work hard and contribute in phenomenal ways. Our role as leaders is to embrace and mentor our team members from every generation. They help us interpret and take action on the multi-generational VOC to keep our business vibrant. Thanks Steve!

    • I always smile when someone says they won’t hire Millennials. I wonder if they realize that’s means that one day (soon) they will run out of people to hire. Millennials aren’t just THE future, they are OUR future. Boomers who don’t love working with Millennials had better learn to because they already dominate the workforce.

  2. Enitan says:

    At this point in time, it’s a mere wish that old generation leadership will be more willing to embrace change and millennial thinking to try out new ways of handling activities, while still having their safety nets? Such changes can actually lead to the growth and positive transformation they need for their businesses. However, majority are simply averse to taking risks

    • While I’m sad to say they you are mostly correct the goods news is that there are leaders who are forward thinking. Those who refuse to accept any level of risk are taking the biggest risk of all. Boomer leaders who can’t adapt will simply become obsolete.

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