Since Christmas, my social media timeline has been filled with articles and blogs about “Why Managers are scared to hire Millennials” “What Millennials want from the workplace” “How Millennials are disrupting traditional HR practices” and even “A Millennial Explains what Millennials are all about”.
What are these strange creatures who are causing so much angst? Apparently they live their innermost lives on the internet, exposing their most private thoughts and activities for millions to share. They get excited by sitcoms about people sharing flats, they don’t know what a video recorder is and they talk in emojis and strange slang. Worse still, when it comes to work, they demand to be CEO on day 1, want slides in work and have no respect for existing ways of doing things, despite the fact they have no experience. And they expect the companies they work for to be ethical despite having no loyalty to their employer and changing jobs every couple of months. And – here’s the really sinister part – they were all born in 1990 or later.
Now some of you reading this may think “hang on, aren’t these just young people? Behaving in the way young people have done for generations? Having unrealistic expectations and being idealistic? Liking new technology and having their own cultural reference points?” But that would be complacent and, if I may say so, dangerous thinking.
Millennials are different. There’s been extensive research to say so. Conferences are devoted to the subject. Scholarly articles have been published. HR professionals talk of little else. So it must be true.
Forget the war for talent. Forget the metrics. Forget all that mindfulness stuff. This is the one area you must concentrate on if you want to be on trend with current HR thinking.
Corrections and Clarifications
It has been drawn to the author’s attention that
- Millennials may have been born in 1985 or later, or perhaps 1980 or later, or – well just pick a date that suits you.
- There has not in fact been extensive research. Lots of companies selling products have produced nebulous statistics which are then re-quoted as facts
- While a few scholarly articles have been produced, most are based on small samples of US students and the authors themselves warn against generalising from the findings.