You’ve probably seen this video making the rounds on social media. The smart-looking, hipsterish fellow in the glasses is Simon Sinek, a marketing consultant, motivational speaker, and self-proclaimed millennial expert.
In the video, Sinek discusses why companies are finding millennials “unmanageable,” and he makes every typical complaint about millennials we’ve all heard before.
On the surface, this might seem harmless enough. Sinek supports his argument with data and repeatedly states these issues aren’t the millennial generation’s fault.
But these stereotypes are dangerous. If you start thinking your millennial employees are unmanageable, you can blame them for nearly anything that goes wrong. Instead, managers should be looking for ways to increase employee engagement among all workers — especially millennials, who are becoming the dominant generation in the American workforce.
Here are the top five myths about the millennial generation:
01. Millennials are lazy
This claim is, well, lazy thinking.
The Economist reports that millennials are more competitive than other generations, with 59% reporting that competition is what gets them out of bed in the morning compared to 50% of baby boomers. They’re also more likely to consider career advancement opportunities when deciding whether to take a job.
02. Millennials are entitled
This is the “participation trophy” fallacy.
Every millennial child supposedly received a participation trophy no matter how awful they were at soccer, ballet, or saxophone. But millennials don’t expect instant success. Surveys demonstrate that a majority of millennials believe they have a lot to learn from their superiors.
03. Millennials are addicted to technology
The millennial who gazes into their smartphone searching for validation via social media is yet another tired stereotype. A recent study found that baby boomers are actually more addicted to technology than their younger counterparts.
04. Millennials have been coddled since childhood
Oddly, this claim is often made by boomer parents, who would be the alleged coddlers.
Millennials were supposedly told they could achieve their dreams and have anything they wanted. Yet a meta-analysis found most studies show no significant differences among generations at all.
05. Millennials are excessively idealistic
Sinek perpetuates the idea that millennials are obsessed with “making a difference” and are very impatient to do so.
This alleged idealism makes it difficult for them to accept the grind of working a job. But a Journal of Business and Psychology study found that millennials are more satisfied with work than boomers. They’re also less likely to job hop than other generations.
Boomers will be retiring in droves in the coming years. As they leave, millennials will begin to take over leadership positions. Organizations that treat millennials as equals and invest in leadership development will be well-positioned going forward.