Shaming our youth is a tradition as old as dirt. In recent history Generation X was known as a group of “Slackers.” Before Gen X, the original “ME” generation was the “Hippies”, the Baby Boomers who are now so worried about these “lazy, entitled, narcissistic” Millennials.
You can’t understand anyone accurately when you’re judging them… and that’s exactly what we do when we rely on stereotypes.
Greg Johnson, Chairman and CEO, Damar Services said, “I find that it is dangerous to overgeneralize this demographic. We have encountered many who are thoughtful, resourceful, open-minded and even visionary community stewards … Our challenge is to personalize the impact and engage them in ways that engender ownership and investment.”1 And for contact center operators, hungry for “digital native” employees adept at engaging and delighting customers, Millennials offer a critical and rich talent pool.2
Rather than putting a whole group of individuals into a stereotype and judging them harshly, get to know them as individuals. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Who knows? You may even find common ground!
You would think that over thousands of years we might have learned to dispel stereotypes. Sadly, we haven’t. This is one “way that it’s always been done” that it’s time to let go of, and here are 6 great reasons why.
#1. Data doesn’t tell the whole story
“Half of what we have heard about Millennials is wrong.”3 While the data we read may be statistically accurate, much of it has nothing to do with social science. Even the content that does come from social science—like the reliable statistics we read about from the Gallup Organization—while accurate, doesn’t tell the context of the Millennial experience.
Why? Because these surveys don’t consider the fact that Millennials are going through a new life stage called “emerging adulthood”. According to Haydn Shaw, generational and cultural differences expert, recognizing that full adulthood begins at age 27 or 28 is important because, “if it’s the Millennials, then it’s a problem that needs to be fixed…if it’s a life stage, it’s a change that we need to understand and adapt to. And understanding that makes working together easier.”
#2. Millennials work to live, not live to work
Millennials place a higher premium on the success of their personal lives—even above their careers. A majority of respondents in a Bentley University study say that having a successful marriage (63%) and being a good parent (57%) are among the most important things in their lives. Many of them have been quite open in letting employers know “that their family responsibilities and personal aspirations will take precedence over their professional goals.”4
But there is more to this story. They want to spend time with their families and fulfill career aspirations. If companies want to tap the loyalty and the career aspirations of this generation for leadership development, they should create a work environment that respects personal values, especially related to family.
Find ways to demonstrate that you care about the success of their family life and empower them to build a great career without damaging their personal relationships.
#3. Millennials desire personal growth
One newly employed UK male stated, “I want to feel valued, and be given tasks that allow me to stretch myself to the full extent of my abilities and, by doing so, develop my skills.”5
Millennials are looking for job opportunities where they can learn and grow. They crave continuous feedback and coaching and that’s a good thing! Instead of viewing it as a chore, capitalize on the opportunity to mentor them.
Gen Y is attracted to leaders who clearly articulate the WHY, the purpose behind how work gets done every day. They are looking for coaches who will champion them, encourage them, inspire and motivate them, and challenge them to greatness. Millennials want a coach, not a boss. They expect greater accessibility to leadership and are looking for mentorship rather than direction.6
Companies have more and more knowledge and skill leaving the workforce and a whole bunch of young fresh workers who want to grow. Why not pair them up and be intentional about having those with expertise invest in those who need and desperately want to grow? Sounds like a win-win.
#4. Millennials live their ideals
According to Jean Case, Founder and CEO of The Case Foundation, Millennials invest in the things they care about. About 90% have given $100 or more to a cause in the last year and about half volunteered in the last month.7
A common adage in leadership is to “walk the talk”. Well, Millennials are doing just that! They are setting a great example. Cheer them on, or better yet, follow suit.
Recognize that their genuineness will build a whole new generation of leaders in the workforce that leads by example. That is sorely needed in this age where distrust of leadership can wreak havoc in organizations.
#5. Millennials number 80 million
Per U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are more than 80 million Millennials, the largest cohort size in history. In fact, they are already the largest generation in the workforce and within 3-4 years will make up more than 50% of the employee population. In just 7-8 years, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce.
There’s no stopping this train! But seriously, why wouldn’t you want to take this ride? It’s going to be amazing!
#6. Millennials are the future (like it or not)
As Linsey Pollak, Millennial Workplace Expert, pointed out, “We don’t have a choice. There is no other generation waiting in the wings in case this one doesn’t work out! We need to understand and support this generation now… What would happen if we supported Millennials, instead of shaming them? If we supported them wholeheartedly, unabashedly, enthusiastically? Let’s find out!”8
Oftentimes fear holds us back – fear of the unknown, fear of change or just blind fear. But there’s a whole generation of young people brimming with talent and yearning for a chance to make their mark on the world. Let’s not succumb to fear and judgment just because we don’t know or understand them.
Millennials and contact centers are a perfect match. Get behind Millennials, invest in them, and support them as they take you to places you’ve never gone before! Read the proven ways to recruit and retain this valuable and qualified workforce in Alorica’s Decoding Millennials eBook.
Here at Alorica, we’re looking forward to the adventure. Are you?
- Top 100 Findings From the Millennial Impact Project, Achieve, 2015, http://achievemulti.wpengine.com/mi/files/2015/08/MIR_KeyTakeaways-2.pdf
- Ways to Attract a Digitally Savvy Talent Pool, Kyle Harding, Smart Customer Service, http://www.smartcustomerservice.com/Columns/Vendor-Views/Ways-to-Attract-a-Digitally-Savvy-Talent-Pool-111825.aspx.
- Why Half of What You Hear about Millennials Is Wrong, Haydn Shaw, TEDxIIT, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPMrcY9z0nM
- Millennials in the Workplace, Survey conducted by Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business (CWB), http://www.bentley.edu/centers/center-for-women-and-business/millennials-workplace
- Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace, PWC, 2011, https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/assets/reshaping-the-workplace.pdf
- Millennials In The Workplace: They Don’t Need Trophies But They Want Reinforcement, Jeff Fromm, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2015/11/06/millennials-in-the-workplace-they-dont-need-trophies-but-they-want-reinforcement/#45db0bd353f6
- Millennial Engagement, Case Foundation Organization, http://casefoundation.org/program/millennial-engagement/?nabe=6116754236899328:1&gclid=CJ7p29uOsdMCFYWEaQodwDoMhQ&utm_referrer=https://www.google.com/
- It’s About Time We Stop Shaming Millennials, Lindsey Pollak, TEDxStLouisWomen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaCQ-giZOxg