They are deemed lazy yet tech-savvy society elements with impostor syndrome and plus-size ambitions. They are both a curse and a blessing of modern workforce.
The generation of weekness.
Know-it-all assholes with no sense of loyalty.
Impatient job hoppers.
They are the largest generation ever to drive and walk the roads of this planet, and they are already old enough to speak for themselves.
Google the word "millennials," and you are destined to end up scrolling through zillions of articles on how entitled / great / different / self-absorbed / dumb / brilliant (…) millennials are. Researchers of various notability, bloggers of all ages and people of your own circle have already "wrapped" millennials in smart-sounding epithets, labeled them with whatever mental sticker was available and put them in boxes that fit their own mental shelves.
Millennials' code looks easy to crack, yet what do we know about them? Do even millennials know anything about themselves?
I am a millennial, and I don't know.
"I think I totally understand myself," said no millennial ever— Tweet this!
In 10 years, 75% of workforce will be millennials. I don't want to scare you; it is the statement based on some hard-core research (i.e. I Googled it).
Here are 7 things you probably didn't know about millennials even though you might be a millennial yourself.
1. In the global context, not all millennials actually belong to the same generation.
Millennials are generally described as the generation born between early 1980s and 2002, but rarely do people give an extra thought to different countries' cultural, political and historical contexts that affect generational differences in different places.
Let me explain. My best friend was born in the Soviet Russia in 1982, and technically speaking, he is a millennial. He studied at a Soviet school, read Soviet books and watched Soviet movies.
In his forming years, my friend lived a humble life in a small house without centralized heating; he had two cows, one hundred chickens and even drove a small tractor when his parents weren't around.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, he was young enough to quickly transition to capitalism, yet old enough to understand and remember things that would later form his opinions on both pluses and minuses of the socialist society (well… because you have opinions when you are nine years old).
It took the capitalist Russia a few years to change the educational system, rewrite handbooks and rethink the country's ideology. In the meantime, my friend and his family were going through hunger, a serious financial breakdown and changes in all existing bureaucratic systems.
As a result, I now have a friend who:
- is used to suffering;
- doesn't trust any (I mean ANY) government;
- thinks that Soviet cartoons are the best.
Put him next to me, a lady born after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and you will see that our generational gap is wider than Kim Kardashian's hips.
I was born 2 months before the Soviet Union collapsed, and even though my parents went through the same unpleasant experiences mentioned above, I was too small to remember empty store shelves, lack of money and food, and the changes that were so hard to bear for people who actually believed that the Soviet Union was there to stay.
As a result, the world got me, and I:
- think that suffering is a part of progress, and it ends;
- believe that at least some governments are trying their best;
- think that Sailor Moon was the best cartoon ever.
Conclusion: Despite being born in the millennial period, my friend is closer to Gen X-ers in how he sees the world, and I am closer to a stereotypical millennial (well, in some aspects).
2. Millennials differ from country to country within the same regions
"A global study of 16,000 Millennials in 43 countries — conducted in 2014 and co-sponsored by the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, the HEAD Foundation and Universum — reveals that Millennials not only differ from region to region, but even from country to country within those regions of the world." — Ideas for Leaders
Here are some examples of global differences among millennials based on the global study of 16,000 millennials in 43 countries:
- More than 40% of Millennials in the Asian Pacific region expect a standard of living higher than that of their parents. So do only 9% of Japanese millenials.
- South African millennials are less likely to see themselves as entrepreneurial compared to Nigerian millennials.
- Becoming a leader is more important to Russian millennials, while millennials from Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic prioritize growing and learning new things.
- Latin American millennials agree on the value of job titles more than any other millennials globally.
- When asked who or what influenced society the most, the top choice was ‘government’ among the UAE millennials, ‘private business’ among Turkish millennials and ‘individuals’ — in Lebanon.
- American millenials think that business affects society the most, while Canadians attribute influence to government and individuals.
- Spanish and Italian millennials attached importance to titles, while Germans and Austrians shared a concern with empowerment at work.
3. Millennials are more loyal to their employers than the previous generation was at their age.
Whenever I get brave enough to ask other people about what they think of millennials, it is the job-hopper myth I hear the most.
Millennials are said to be the young, carefree crowd lingering at a local bar in the midst of a workday, because, as the myth goes on, they just "want to be millionaires instead of working 9 to 5".
Yet, according to the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials are becoming increasingly loyal to their current employer as they get older (even more so than the Generation X):
- 38% of millennials plan to leave within 2 years, compared to 44% in 2016;
- 31% plan to stay beyond 5 years, compared to 27% in 2016;
- 7% plan to leave soon, compared to 17% in 2016.
Conclusion: These results show a drastic shift in the millennial generation. This group is no longer the immature crowd with the superiority syndrome (if it was ever one).
4. Millennials in the U.S. are less optimistic than their generation's counterparts in less developed countries
The biggest surprise of the global millennial survey’s results was the lower levels of optimism in developed countries compared to developing ones.
Only 36% of millennials in mature markets believed they would be better off and happier than their parents. Compare that to developing countries: more than 70% said they would be better off!
In other words, American millennials are more pessimistic than millennials in Brazil or India.
5. Millennials are most likely to be overworked and underpaid than their older colleagues.
The “Me-me-me” cohort doesn’t have a reputation of a hard-working generation.
“The caricature of the Millennial worker is more or less a cartoon of an entitled recipient of hundreds of plastic participation trophies who cares less about paying his dues at work and more about perks like flex-time, beer carts, and nap rooms.” — Harvard Business Review
However, according to this article from Harvard Business Review (based on the survey of 5000 millenials), millennials are much more likely to see themselves as “work martyrs” than their older colleagues.
What’s more, millennials are also much more likely to forfeit unused vacation days than any other generation group. As if this wasn’t enough, millennials are also more likely to “feel guilty” for using their paid time off.
Ironically, despite all the bad rep millennials got for being “the entitled generation,” it is the young people under 35 who are more willing to sacrifice their health and weekends to show complete dedication to the employer despite earning less than their more experienced colleagues.
And though years of experience don’t actually make one qualified (← read this post), the system is merciless: millennials are more likely to be underpaid despite their education and savviness.
Theoretically speaking, millennials should be the highest-paid cohort of young adults in history: They are said to be the most educated and tech-savvyest group of workers that have ever entered the labor market. They grew up having access to more information than any other generation before them, giving millennials a unique opportunity to learn whatever whenever wherever…
Thanks, however, to the financial crises, recession, common prejudice, and enormous student debt, that isn’t the case. To make it even worse, this report says, it won’t even be enough for Millennials to work harder.
"According to the Center of American Progress, today’s 30-year-olds make about as much as a 30-year-old would have in 1984. Millennials are no better off than Generation X, despite the fact that a 30-year-old Millennial is 51 percent more likely to have finished college than a Boomer was, and 18 percent more likely than a Gen Xer. (For Millennials who haven’t earned a college degree, the outlook is worse than it would’ve been for 30-year-olds in a similar situation in past generations.)” — (The Atlantic)
6. Millennials are too open about their salary history.
Conspiracy theories, prejudice, and international politics aside, millennials’ openness about their lives might be the actual reason why the younger generation is so commonly underpaid.
The Instagram generation grew up being fine with oversharing, let it be showing off one’s vacation pictures (in the rare moments of taking the paid time off despite the overbearing feeling of guilt before the employer — see the previous point), or posting occasional rants on Social Media.
PayScale surveyed over 15,000 workers of different generation to see how people respond to salary history inquiries during the interview process. Not surprisingly, millennials were less likely than any other generation to withhold salary history.
“Only 18 percent of millennials refused to provide their salary history, compared to 22 percent of gen Xers and 28 percent of baby boomers.” — PayScale
And the more open you are about how much you earned in the previous job, the more likely you are to be offered the compensation that is close to the one you had before. Why? Because it is no longer the value you are bringing to the new workplace that determines your salary, but rather the amount that the previous employer was ready to pay.
7. Millennials change as they get older (you saw this one coming…)
“Context matters,” says Jim Moffatt, Deloitte Global Consulting CEO. “You can talk about it in absolutes, but context matters. The [millennial] group is getting older.” — Forbes
What a surprise! People age with time. And with age, people change.
More than half of the millennial generation today is at or above the average age of marriage. About 1.3 million millennial women become first-time moms each year, and 8 in 10 births in the U.S. are attributed to millennial parents.
Millennials today are :
- getting married (and posting wedding pictures on Facebook and Instagram);
- having children (5 of my high school friends had their 2nd child last year);
- buying property;
- celebrating 5–10 years in their careers…
The millennial generation continues to age and change. You can't talk with and about them from the position of power and authority anymore — not because millennials are generally disrespectful of authority, but because they are already old enough to speak and decide for themselves.
"Whether it’s parenthood, moving to the suburbs, or investing more in retirement, large numbers of millennials are in different stages of life than they were a decade ago. Labels and stereotypes true then are no longer true, and those who engage this generation well understand those changes," — Wes Gay, Forbes
As of now, millennials are still commonly described as "the lazy ones" and "those who care about perks more than they do about paying their dues at work."
We are called:
"The generation of weekness…"
"Know-it-all assholes with no sense of loyalty…"
"Impatient job hoppers…"
You know where I am going… Don't say you know millennials. Even if you've seen a few. Even if you are a millennial yourself.
Despite the myths about being lazy, self-absorbed (and dancing on bar tables with our participation trophies on Friday nights), we are your future doctors, nurses, teachers, and… (I am sorry) presidents.
And not all of us had participation trophies… I didn't.
Give a trophie to me. I want to dance with one.
Anzhelika is writing about reimagining oneself, building great teams, inspiring great work, humanizing workplace, and responsible marketing.
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