By Alyssa Curran

People can’t utter the word “millennial” today without seeing visions of artisanal fair trade coffee and hipster-plastic-rimmed glasses flash through their head, but as a card-carrying millennial myself (1985! What a year!), I wanted to write a blog post about some of the misconceptions about millennials.  As it goes with most large populations, it’s not fair to judge the whole group by a selection of distinct individuals.

Here’s my attempt to rationalize and talk through a few points about millennials that we’ve been accused of (and yes, may be guilty of). In true millennial form, I’ll openly admit that we are not perfect. However, though millennials are the current generation of choice to poke fun at, rest assured, like generations before us, eventually we’ll be out of vogue and the jokes will start about the founders (born in 2000 and beyond).

We’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts about millennial labels, too. Please share them in the comments.

We will actually use the phone to TALK… it’s just not our preference.
For many, it’s true that we prefer to text and use Facebook or email. However, we also know that sometimes nothing beats a quick phone call, and actually, our preference for any conversation would be one done in person. Actual face time (though we like to Facetime, too) is important to us, even though we like quick conversations through digital means. If you’re feeling frustrated that the millennial in your office won’t pick up the phone, just ask them.

Side note: Feel like your millennial employee is using too many smiley faces or exclamation points? Just say something. We’re a generation that communicates often in meme, hashtag, and emoji, so it’s natural that some of that accidentally creeps into our working communication. You can also always respond with a smiley face of your own if you feel so inclined!

Entitled? Sometimes. Here’s why.
The biggest beef against millennials is that we’re entitled. While there’s a difference between entitled as in  “I deserve everything I want without working for it” and “This is what I really want, and here’s how I’ll get it,” millennials ARE entitled.

We’re entitled in the way that we want living wages, secure, safe and affordable housing, job growth and security, and protection of our environment…among other things. We’re a generation that grew up with our baby boomer parents and Gen X and Gen Y siblings teaching us what we could learn from their experiences. And learn we did. We saw them go through layoffs and housing crises and economic despair, and many of us learned bitterly that giving something your best doesn’t mean you’re going to get those efforts rewarded.

This is how millennials became the media scapegoat for the troublesome agent of change, the person who uses hashtags for activism but lives at home with their parents. However, if you look back, all generations have at one point been chastised for being “entitled.”

Liz Ryan, Career Writer at Forbes.com says, “There is no such thing as generational entitlement.” So, if you’re working with a millennial who’s coming across as entitled, do what you would do with anybody: Have a polite but firm conversation about why their actions or requests are unreasonable, and what they can do instead to help them succeed and achieve.

We only want to wear jeans and work from home.
Jeans? No way. Yoga pants, all the way. I jest (not really).

As a millennial said, “Just because we don’t always dress up at the office doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously. Casual clothes can free up focus and resources to actually get work done and do it creatively…because we’re comfortable!”

As for working from home, I do admit that my virtual career is usually coveted among my peers, but working from home is not for everyone, despite what the media makes it seem. For many of us, working remotely allows for a flexible work/life balance that overall increases our enjoyment of our personal lives while enhancing our professional performance. However, plenty of millennials want to go into an office, too.

Several of Event 360’s virtual millennial staff use co-working spaces and set up regular work dates with other telecommuters. Most of us jump at the chance to see our coworkers in person when schedules allow, and many of my millennial peers even refuse to investigate career moves that are home-office based. One thing doesn’t work for everyone, so if your millennial employee is asking to work from home, find out why, be open, and see if giving it a try may actually turn into a good thing.

Are we lazy?
My generation are the lovers of Amazon Prime, Door Dash, Taskrabbit, and grocery delivery. We often find ways to effectively outsource the things we don’t want to do, choosing to analyze them with a cost-versus-time calculation. While this gives us a bad rap as “lazy,” it’s important to consider how most millennials don’t blink an eye at checking work email during off-hours, working unpaid overtime, or volunteering our time to give back to our communities.

Many of us also take on second jobs or contract work to pad our bank accounts, which is not always a choice but a necessity given the job market. We’re a generation that has seen how technology can enhance and improve lifestyles, so we’re not shy about finding ways to digitally fine-tune our to-do and shopping lists.

Of course, we’re also the generation that proudly rocks sweatshirts emblazoned with phrases like “Namaste in bed today” and coined the term binge-watching for a marathon of Netflix, so it’s completely fair to say some of us embrace laziness when appropriate.

We may be sensitive – but we’re also honest, and we want to hear from you.
A common retort from people managing millennials is that we’re overly sensitive. People make fun of our need for “safe spaces,” our habit for political correctness, and how we often champion

change in body image and equal rights. While millennials being oversensitive could certainly be true, I’d also argue that people of all ages aren’t lining up to hear constructive criticism.

As one millennial said, “It helps so much having feedback whether it is negative or positive. Though, I do think that a lot of millennials are sensitive to even constructive criticism. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that maybe their managers don’t give enough feedback so when constructive criticism is shared, it’s almost a shock.”

Millennials do love to share, and with that, we’re open and honest about our life and want to hear from you how we can do things better. Just be sure to share feedback, whether positive or negative, constructively, frequently and fairly – and don’t be surprised if we have some feedback for you, too, like these millennials did when the hashtag #HowToConfuseAMillennial went viral.

Alyssa works on social media for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, a 60-mile walk to end breast cancer. When she’s not tweeting, “Liking”, or blogging, she’s crafting recipes in the kitchen, hiking, playing with her daughter, or buying more nail polish she doesn’t need. Tweet her on Twitter or link up with her on LinkedIn.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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