Do Millennials Work Differently From Other Generations?

Resized Blog post image(6).png

Millennials have been blamed for everything from killing the 9 to 5 work week structure to ruining the sport of running to undermining the diamond industry (pun intended).

It’s unfortunate that the generation has been stereotyped as severely as they have. After all, regardless of generation, there are vast differences in emotional and mental development between an 18-year-old and a 38-year-old, which is how old the youngest and oldest Millennials are today. And that’s without considering the conflicting parameters of who falls into the Millennial bracket. Millennials are born between 1980 and 2000. Some argue they are born between 1984 and 2000. In the work I do, I identify millennials as those between 1980 and 2000.

Regardless, 30-year-old working mother who has established a career for herself, owns a home, and is a community leader certainly doesn’t appreciate being identified as self-absorbed and entitled, as Millennials are often described.

On the other hand, a 20-year-old with two years left until they graduate may not relish the fact that their generational moniker has predetermined their ability to hold a job straight out of college. And they’re probably not too happy that they are assumed to be highly tech-savvy and can teach their much older colleagues how to use new tools and software.

When it comes to Millennials – are they really so different to work with compared to other generations? Here’s what we’ve learned:

Millennials Have Better Job Track Records

In another study by Pew, it also determined that Millennials aren’t job-hopping faster than Generation X did. Among the college-educated, Millennials have longer track records with their employers than GenX workers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today’s Millennials.

In fact, approximately 75% of college-educated 25- to 35-year-olds had worked for their employer at least 13 months in 2016. That’s 3-5% more than the college-educated GenX employees who were the same age back in 2000.

Millennials stay with their jobs longer because they’re a highly motivated generation. They deeply value opportunities that will help them progress in their careers. They know that companies reward loyalty with more responsibilities. Employers don’t have to worry about training Millennials just to have them quit and move on to something else because Millennials become deeply invested in their companies as long as they feel that their companies value them in return. 

Millennials’ Value Education and Career

A 2013 EY study concluded that in the 5 years prior, 87% of millennial workers took on management roles, compared with 38% of GenX and 19% of Baby Boomers.

And in a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, it was found that Millennials reflect a shift in attitude when it comes to the importance of work and education over family with “more than 9 in 10 Americans believe that finishing school and being gainfully employed are important milestones of adulthood."

However, putting off children and marriage has little to do with the generation’s perceived inability to commit or their disregard for traditional practices. The younger generation has simply identified acquiring a degree and holding a job as the first steps to becoming an adult vs. settling down and having kids.

This means that Millennials priorities are like any other generation’s. With past generations, many employers lost good people who would quit their jobs entirely to start families. Millennials are more career-driven compared to the generations that preceded them; don't follow the traditional formula for success. Not only will they put off starting a family, but they don’t perceive getting married or having kids as an excuse to slow down their careers.    

Ultimately, it seems that the Millennials’ approach to work is not dramatically different compared to the generations that came before them. Remember, generations cover at least two decades; that’s 20 years of work and life experience between each end of the Millennial spectrum. If anything, maybe we are detecting differences in maturity and, in fact, not identifying generational markers.

Perhaps – the key to successfully integrating them into the workforce is to keep our minds open and to understand their strengths. If you care for them and invest in them (the whole person, not just the one who shows up at work), they will give their best.

In some ways, what they want from work is not that different from other generations. Their just the first generation to speak openly about their wants and needs. And in a world where we ask people to be honest, let’s be prepared for their honesty and candor instead of putting them down for it.

They could be the first group to help companies truly identify what works and doesn’t work, to embrace technology and focus on contributing. If you ask me, that’s a gold mine most organizations and leaders haven’t dug deep into yet.

Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. – Ronald Reagan

Simone Brown is a performance coach who helps leaders and teams increase productivity. Her approach is grounded in behavioural and brain-based strategies. She believes success isn’t just about talents and smarts, it’s about the development of emotional intelligence. Simone is also a speaker, and talks about topics such as emotional intelligence, millennials, and the importance of purpose.