10 millennial myths busted

The authors take issue with a recent Forbes article and a widespread stereotyping of Gen Y. Today’s 20-somethings, they say, work differently from prior generations but get equal or even better results.

Millennials are tired of being talked about, dissected, and discussed as a faceless entity.

In a well-circulated Forbes article, Jason Nazar gave 20 reasons why 20-somethings are not quite up to par—including instructions on how we could manage our money, careers, and relationships more effectively.

Every day, we’re inundated with articles advising “How to Manage/Hire/Mentor/Talk to/Eat Lunch with a Millennial.”

Our generation has become a national obsession, with a focus on lambasting under-30s with condescending generalizations that disregard the contributions and potential of one of the most diverse generations in history.

So, let’s bust a few of the more commons myths:

Myth 1: We’re more productive in the morning

Everyone works differently, and we’re a generation that values flexibility. Let us work at the times we’re most productive, and it will only benefit your business. Granted, we want to be part of the team, and sometimes that means that we all have to be in one place at the same time. Aside from that, we’ll be happier and do better work if you treat us like individuals with our own distinct schedules and preferences. Measure the results, not the time frame.

Myth 2: Social media is not a career

You’re right. We’re just getting paid to play on Facebook and build meaningful relationships and deal with customer service issues and develop a consistent brand image on digital platforms. If you don’t believe in the power of social media, than maybe you don’t understand the habits and buying practices of our generation. For us, business is personal; we’re committed to using our purchasing power with brands that align with our values and image. Millennials’ purchasing decisions are directly driven by recommendations from friends, both in person and online.

Myth 3: We should pick up the phone

Our generation communicates differently. We’re not hiding behind the computer; we just prefer to take advantage of the multiple options we have to get our message across. As digital natives, our channels of choice might be different from yours. We get it: Sometimes it takes an in-person or telephone conversation, but again, let’s judge these tactics based on what works. If we accomplish the same thing in less time through a text or tweet, why judge us?

Myth 4: We should be the first in and last to leave

We prize work/life balance—specifically, we want to have a life outside the office. Though we’re passionate about what we do, we’ve also grown up with technology that enables us to work from anywhere at any time. This advice simply feels out of date when one can work via smartphone from a coffee shop in London just as easily as at a desk in an office.

The work style of generations prior tended to focus more on being in the office, clocking in and out, and leaving your work at work. We don’t operate like that. Imposing a work schedule of first in/last out does nothing but create an environment where we’re susceptible to burnout and losing interest in the company. Be flexible and value our output, and we’ll work our hearts out for you.

Myth 5: We should get our butts kicked

It’s true that we’re the generation in which everyone got a trophy, win, lose, or draw. We may be more collaborative than competitive, which isn’t a bad thing either. Performance reviews are an important aspect of millennials’ work life, and we genuinely crave the support and insights of those who have even a little more experience under their belts. We’re also a generation that’s immune to hierarchy: We’re able to feel connected with top CEOs and celebrities in a more personal way than ever before through social media and blogs.

Myth 6: A new job a year isn’t a good thing

Though true to some degree, we’ve also grown up watching our Baby Boomer parents work tirelessly for years with the same company, only to be discarded when they were too old or when the economy imploded. This entire assertion seems more like a slap in the face to our generation. Though the advice is valid, suggesting that 20-somethings don’t already know this is a blanket statement and a disservice. We understand that when push comes to shove, employers aren’t all that loyal either, so we’re responsible for looking out for our own best interests.

Myth 7: People matter more than perks

Again, there’s truth in this statement, but it’s also about knowing your demographic. Millennials like perks. As a whole, we value experiences and quality of life more than prior generations did. Great people are a basic requirement, but perks can earn our loyalty and score our skill set.

Myth 8: Speak up, not out

Millennials have no problem speaking up; we’re not enamored of org charts and have few qualms with telling a VP how we see opportunities for improving current systems. This level of comfort and our naturally collaborative nature mean you will find us talking about relevant issues with our work friends around the lunch table. We value the opinions of our peers and want to know that we’re not alone. We’ve grown up in the age of Facebook and are used to crowdsourcing for advice and opinions, from career questions to which sushi place has the freshest fish.

Myth 9: Pick an idol and act ‘as if’

Not bad advice, although it’s worth considering that millennials are generally adamant about being themselves and acting as such. We prize individuality, quirkiness, and, most important, authenticity. Encourage us to be ourselves, and we won’t be acting—we’ll be real.

Myth 10: Read more books, fewer tweets/text

Although our generation consumes a great deal of media, we are also known for having specialized niches of keen interest. We might read about these online, on our iPads, or even in an actual book. We’re also a highly experiential group, meaning that we place more value on our firsthand understanding than on the past understanding of others.

Kristine Overacre Page (@kristine_page) is a social media strategist and digital brand consultant. Blake McCammon (@rblake) specializes in building e-commerce platforms and search engine optimization.


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