By Jessica Wade
There’s a rumor going around the work-places of America that Millennials are lazy, praise-needing employees that lack communication skills. Those stereotypes may be somewhat justified, but the attributes Millennials bring to the American workforce far outweigh the shortcomings.
The children of Baby Boomers, Millennials are people aged 18 to 34 who grew up amid the age of technology and in a somewhat economically unsound society. They are ambitious, confident go-getters changing the American workforce, and love them or hate them, Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers in becoming the nation’s largest living generation.
Not only are Millennials the largest generation overall, but they recently became the largest generation in America’s labor force and will continue to change workplace norms.
Currently representing one-third of American workers, many businesses are meeting this large demographic half way by making changes that are “Millennial friendly”. Among the evolving businesses is General Electric, a company traditionally known for something many Millennials respond negatively to: categorizing employees as numbers.
GE has long been known for its system of ranking employees and firing the bottom 10 percent. Recently switching to a more qualitative performance report, General Electric is following in the footsteps of many companies by acknowledging the Millennials’ need for constant feedback. The age of video games may be to blame for this need for instant gratification. More than anything else, technology has shaped how Millennials work.
Growing up along side the Internet and smart phones, this generation has had nearly unlimited access to information and communication. As a result, they have discovered that work can be done almost anywhere and at anytime, causing the boundary between working and living their lives to become less distinct.
As performance specialist and author Bonnie D. Delesandri put it: “Although Gen Xers brought work-life balance to light, the idea doesn’t make sense to Millennials. It’s not two different planes to them. Work doesn’t shut down at 5 p.m., and life events happen throughout the day.”
Another accredited trait of Millennials is their aim for work that will impact their community and/or environment in a positive way. These people don’t just want a job that will pay the bills, they want a career that will make them feel they are making a difference in the world.
A survey by Deloitte’s found that 75 percent of Millennial employees believe that businesses are more focused on their own agendas than on improving society, something that this generation takes very seriously.
Millennials are also extremely tolerant, a trait that may have to do with the fact that they are the most diverse generation in the United States. According to the Millennial Generation Research Review, 15 percent were born outside the United States and one-fourth speak a language other than English.
The unavoidable truth is that, for better or worse, the tech savvy, socially conscious Millennial generation will soon be in charge of not just the American workplace, but public sphere as well. Nebraska’s own Legislature leads the way with the largest amount of Millennial senators in the United States.
Statistics from across the nation and the demographics of our own state show that this generation will soon become leaders in government as well as the workforce it has already begun to outnumber, and bring significant change with them.