Plenty of time, money, and effort has been dedicated to understanding the millennial mind: what millennials want, how millennials best function, the things millennials value most. But most of the time, the research on millennials is missing some important information - the actual voices of the people in question.
Often when reading or talking about research on millennials, especially in the workforce, they become a generic population, generalized and amorphous. Their traits are categorized, and their wants and needs simplified. But, at Careerminds, we put it upon ourselves to listen to the individual needs and concerns of people rather than treat them as one of a group. So, rather than overgeneralizing, we asked our millennial participants and followers to voice their individual opinions.
As part of Careerminds’ social media outreach effort, over the past few months we have conducted Millennial Polls on our Facebook page. These polls have garnered responses on topics that matter to millennials at work. For example, we asked a regularly researched question “What is the most important factor in regards to your happiness at work?” However, by providing the space for millennials to voice their opinion publicly, we are stepping away from just presenting the research and towards an open discussion with individual, personal opinions being heard.
Many of our responders used the forum to refute the stereotypes ascribed to their generation. We followed up with some of them to hear even more. Their responses ranged, with many acknowledging the truths behind research's stereotyping and generalization. But some of the biggest points refuted were those regarding these three topics:
“It’s unfair to group a large, heterogenous population together and assume you can speak for all of them, whether that refers to a generational group or a cultural group or a racial group, anything. I think specifically for the millennials, the biggest thing that bothers me is the research that says we’re entitled. The millennials I work with are scrappy and driven and hardworking. We might be aiming high, but I don’t know a single person who thinks they’re going to get anywhere without putting in the time and putting in the work. Just because we’re intent on climbing doesn’t mean we don’t get it. My millennial coworkers and I will do our due, and innovate and be the best we can be as we go.”
“It bothers me that people think millennials have bad communication skills because we’re ‘obsessed with our phone.’ We know how to turn it off and talk in person, we’re not so tech crazy that we’ve lost face to face communication skills. The digital way is just a different kind of communication, one that older generations aren’t really trying to relate to or adapt to.”
“I think that there’s this idea that millennials value life more than work. I don’t think it’s so much that but there’s a work hard play hard mentality. A lot of offices now offer opportunity to play games and relax in the work environment, so I think a new thing to focus on is finding a work culture that allows you to excel at work while allowing you to have fun. To have a social life tied to your job.”
We know it is valuable for employers to grasp the needs of the millennial generation which is why Careerminds continually seeks ways and outlets to help everyone gain a better understanding. Just this week we released a webinar that focused on the importance of understanding millennials. The webinar emphasizes the need for companies to catch up with today’s technology. In turn, companies can keep up with the modern needs of employees, such as issues confronting their millennial workforce, like dealing with student loan debt or college savings for the future.
The best way to understand millennials is to actually ask them about what they want and need. Combining what we learn from research and the responses of individuals at our companies gives us the best opportunity to make productive changes to benefit the youngest generation in the workforce.