4 Myths About Millennials That Smart Employers Should Ignore

A group of casually dressed young men and women walk down an urban street closed to traffic.

Almost 2 million millennials just graduated from college, and many of them will soon join the working world. As millennials become powerful players in the workforce, they will have the potential to help or hurt your company, brand or organization. For those of you who believe the stereotypical insights about this generation, this must be a frightening prospect.

Not only do many of the myths about millennials tend to be the same for all generations in their youth, but there are also a lot of so-called trends that are, frankly, overhyped.

For the employers looking to capitalize on this generational shift, we’re here to debunk four common myths about millennials.

Myth 1: Millennials Can’t Wait to Quit

Fact 1: Millennials Are Sticking Around

Although popular opinion portrays millennials as fickle job-hoppers, an analysis of U.S. Census data shows that millennials are actually more likely to stay at their jobs than Generation Xers were at the same age.

In fact, an IBM study about millennials in the workplace reveals they are actually leaving jobs for all the same reasons as Gen X and baby boomers did before. Millennials want to advance and make a difference in the world just like their predecessors.

When looking at the facts, millennials are actually staying more loyal to their jobs for longer, although we should mention that this might not be such a great thing. Job hopping indicates a good economy, showing that people are finding new jobs, and leads to increased wages as employers try to hold on to employees. Similarly, if employees start jumping from job to job again, it will likely relate more to the economy in the new millennium than to millennials.

Myth 2: Millennials Have A Digital Addiction

Fact 2: Millennials Appreciate Technology AND Tradition

Most millennials are obviously familiar with several different digital forms of communication. And with all the different online platforms, many people might assume that the importance of human contact has been lost. Yet, millennials still place great value on personal connections. And when it comes to finding jobs, millennials believe networking events, campus career services and connections are three of the main ways to find jobs, according to a survey by Achievers and ConnectEDU.

While most millennials text, tweet and post, many prefer to grow in the workplace through collaborative interaction rather than digital options. In a study of millennials, the top preferences for learning new skills include a third-party event, in-person training and guidance from co-workers. Even though they are often believed to be know-it-alls, in many aspects, millennials want to take advice and learn from the professionals. In fact, even when it comes to financial management and insurance purchases, most millennials base their decisions on word-of-mouth recommendations and advice from loved ones.

Myth 3: Millennials Need Their Hands Held

Fact 3: Millennials Want to Lead

Many people argue that millennials plan to excel without trying and that they expect endless recognition for all tasks, but cannot make any decisions on their own. But that isn’t what millennials say. According to The Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey, more than 70 percent of 785 young people said they aspire to lead in their workplace over the next five years. Again, according to IBM's study, they use people for input on decisions the same way Gen X does.

A study by Bentley University suggests that millennials will be far more independent and entrepreneurial than past generations. Almost two-thirds involved in their study say they dream of starting their own business. They share in the overall ambition to become leaders and are ready to get started on their own.

Myth 4: Millennials Are Just Totally Different Than Other Generations

Fact 4: Millennials Are Just Not Totally That Different

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in about five years, about half of the workforce in the United States will be millennials. Companies are smart to be making changes to office rules, regulations and designs in order to prepare for this change and attract talented young professionals. What many employers don’t realize when they focus on what’s unique about this generation is that millennials are actually very similar to baby boomers and Gen Xers in other ways.

Millennials desire many of the same work requirements that everyone wants: to make money, grow into a leadership role, enjoy flexibility and learn from others. Those things that are undoubtedly specific to this time and age, like online social networks, are really used to accomplish the age-old goals of collaboration and maintaining relationships.

Yes, there are things that make millennials different from previous generations, but there are also these and plenty more myths that smart employers should do their best to ignore.