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BFS Capital Blog

9 Myths About Millennials Business Owners Should Unlearn

July 14, 2015

Kids these days.

A lot of us are like the old man on the porch with our millennial employees, yelling at them to get off our lawns and stop staring into their smartphones. Calling them lazy … and tech-obsessed … and disloyal.

But like any stereotype, a great deal of things that you hear about millennials just aren’t true. Here are 9 common myths about millennials that business owners should unlearn. Clearing up these misconceptions about the youngest generation in the workforce might help you communicate with them in a manner other than loud shouts from the porch.

Myth #1 – Millennials Aren’t Company Loyal

The conventional wisdom says that this generation has more loyalty to burrito chains than they do to employers. Unless that employer happens to be a burrito chain, then, their heads explode. But, actually, neither the exploding heads nor the job-hopping millennial stereotypes are true.

A study from the IBM Institute for Business Value found that millennials change jobs for the same reasons as Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. And millennials only change jobs more frequently because they are younger and beginning their careers – a trait that all generations share.

Myth #2 – Millennials are Broke

Popular millennial trends like craft cocktails, high quality food, and technology don’t come cheap. And while costs of living are skyrocketing in desirable cities, millennials have actually amassed more home equity, stock equity and liquid cash than any other generation of 25 year-olds before them. This means they may not be as desperate for an entry-level salary as you might believe.

Myth #3 – Millennials Only Communicate via Text Message

A frequent complaint of employers is that millennials fresh out of school don’t know how to write well. They seem to forget that they’re young, and it’s not like Boomers and Xers were cranking out Shakespearean prose in their first job out of school. Texting gets much of the blame. However, a Bentley University study showed that more than half of millennials prefer to talk to a co-worker in person, and only 14% chose texting as their preferred method of communication. Further, the IMB study showed that when learning new job skills, millennials vastly prefer face-to-face contact to digital formats.

Myth #4 – Millennials Need Constant Affirmation

This isn’t youth soccer anymore, and millennials know that. Yes, they do seek feedback on what they’re doing, but that’s more to ensure they can work efficiently and only do tasks once than a need for a “hardest tryer” award. You may need to meet with them more than once a year, but you don’t need to go out of your way to say nice things either.

Myth #5 – Millennials Don’t Value Money

Yes, this generation grew up with the sage wisdom of Christopher Wallace telling them that increased financial assets may lead to, well, mo’ problems. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like money. That’s almost like saying you don’t like chocolate. And a survey from Fast Company showed that – more than any other generation – millennials value compensation in a job over job security.

Myth #6 – Millennial Workers Come Cheap

No. BAD millennial workers come cheap. This generation actually has more access to information about what they’re worth, and they know it. See Myth #2 as to why the good ones won’t save your business money.

Myth #7 – Millennials Don’t Respect Authority

You can’t really blame a generation who grew up listening to Eric Cartman’s demands to respect any kind of authority. But despite the more-lateral organizational structure of corporate America now, the Center for Creative Leadership’s World Leadership Surveyshowed 41% of millennials believe employees should do what a manager tells them, even if they don’t know why, as compared to 30% of Boomers and Xers.

Myths #8 – Millennials are Social Media Obsessed

That same IBM study found that millennials, more than Baby Boomers or Xers, found a need to draw the work/personal line on social media platforms. And another study from Fast Company showed nearly half of millennials keep their “real” selves off social media, and nearly one fifth said their social media didn’t reflect them at all.

Myths #9 – Millennials are Lazy

Millennials don’t lack work ethic. They lack the ethic to do work they find boring. A generation that’s perpetually exposed to creativity isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to do data entry. Further, they are always looking for the quickest, most efficient way of finishing a task, and won’t beg you for more work. It’s that work/life balance they seek, and once a job is finished, so are they.

When running your small business, it’s important to keep in mind that millennials are tomorrow’s leaders and they will account for about 75% of the workforce by 2025. By challenging these 9 common myths about millennials, you will empower your younger employees while setting your business up for success for many years to come.