Millennials Defy Stereotypes

Millennials Defy Stereotypes

Three recent studies agree that millennial workers defy the stereotypes about them that have gained so much media attention. The studies, commissioned by Zapier, Udemy, and Bank of America, show that millennials are loyal to their employers, practice good money management habits, and are far from lazy and entitled.

The Zapier Study

Zapier commissioned Harris polling to discover what millennials are really like in the workplace. The starting point of the discussion:

You might think younger generations are disloyal to employers. Turns out most see their job as core to their identity, and want to stay in their current job long term. You might think younger generations are wasting work time on social media. Turns out many are doing the opposite, spending their evenings responding to work communications.”

And rather than job-hopping for trivial reasons, per the stereotype, “Millennial employees plan to stay at their current job for a total of 10 years, on average.” Many millennials also are employed in knowledge-based professions and have direct reports. These younger managers embrace technology and report that they refuse to hire applicants without solid computer skills.

Further, if an employer does not provide sufficient technology for a millennial to do their job, that can be a reason to leave. “One in 6…Millennial employees…have quit a job because their employer did not provide the proper technology for them to do their job.” Millennials are also not afraid of having part of their job automated: 93 percent say that they would accept that happening. If being tech-friendly is part of the stereotype, then millennials live up to that part at least.

As the Zapier study points out:

over 4 in 5 Millennial managers (85 percent) say they encourage their direct reports to solve problems using technology. This includes technologies like automation, with almost 9 in 10 Gen Z (86 percent) and Millennial (87 percent) managers say they are open to their direct reports automating parts of their job.

A solid majority of millennials are also using tech to stay connected to work even outside work hours. “Roughly 7 in 10 Gen Z (71 percent) and Millennial (69 percent) employees admit they are constantly on or checking their work communication tools outside of work.” A similar percentage identify with their job, defying the stereotype. Seventy-three percent of millennials say that their job is a key component of their personal identity.

The Zapier poll does point to one part of workplace culture in which millennials may differ from their older colleagues. Eighty-five percent of millennials said that employers should have a mental health policy in place, and 78 percent said that being able to discuss mental health at work is important. For older workers, this topic may remain something too personal to discuss openly at work.

All in all, the Zapier study shows that millennials are very much engaged with and even identify with their work, put in long hours checking communications at home, and are very willing to use technology to increase their productivity. In keeping with millennials’ friendliness with technology, many are interested in keeping their tech skills up-to-date.

The Udemy Study

The Udemy Study also puts some stereotypes to rest and paints a picture of millennials as hardworking and involved in their jobs. The biggest takeaway: millennials expect to need to learn to keep up with changing job demands, and they wish their employers would provide more of that training.

The summary from Udemy:

The message to employers wanting to engage and retain this generation is: invest in us, help us keep our skills current, and offer us flexibility, and in return, we will stick with you, rise to the demands of a changing workplace, and use our native comfort with technology to work smarter for you.

A significant number of respondents to the Udemy study emphasized the “keeping our skills current” part of their desired workplace engagement. Forty-two percent said learning and development is the “most important benefit when deciding where to work.” Fully 73 percent “expect to need additional education or training to advance in their careers,” and nearly 90 percent are confident of their ability to learn the new skills they will need to stay current. As for flexibility, 44 percent said a “flex schedule is their ideal work arrangement.” And, contrary to the stereotype of the flighty millennial, 59 percent have been in their current jobs for more than three years. Most also feel that their pay is fair.

Aside from pay, however, what millennials care about is training. Less than a majority feel that their employers are offering sufficient on-the-job training. Here is a lesson for employers: “Millennials overwhelmingly believe employers share responsibility and should offer robust learning & development (L&D) opportunities; however, less than half (42%) of our millennial survey respondents said their current employers provide learning, development, and training opportunities.” Seventy-three percent of those surveyed said they expect they will need to learn new skills to stay competitive, “dispelling the notion this generation wants a prize just for showing up.”

The Bank of America Study

Finally, another study helps dispel some notions about millennials and their financial habits. A Bank of America study shows that millennials are savers rather than the stereotypes who spend too much money on avocado toast. Oddly enough–perhaps this is a testament to the power of media–“[M]illennials believe the stereotypes about themselves. Despite their good habits, three-quarters say their generation overspends, and the majority believe that their generation is bad at managing money.” The takeaway? “Millennials deserve more credit–both from themselves and
from others–for their mindfulness when it comes to money and their lives.”

Here are the details: 57 percent of millennials have a savings goal, and 73 percent of those with a budget stick to it most months. Almost half–47 percent–have $15,000 or more in savings. Yet 75 percent “say their generation overspends compared to other generations,” and 73 percent “say their generation overspends on unnecessary indulgences.”

The B of A study also examined the stereotype of millennials as job hoppers and found it unfair. One in four millennials are part of the gig economy, after all, and a quarter of them have been laid off. They can hardly be faulted for switching jobs often if the jobs switch on them.

Conclusion

While even millennials believe the stereotypes about them being portrayed in the media, the reality is that they defy those stereotypes when it comes to job-hopping, unwillingness to learn new skills, and money management. Employers seeking to retain millennial workers could do well to provide learning and development opportunities and, if possible, flex time.

About The Author

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Eric Howard is a legal editor who lives in Los Angeles.

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