Millennials are a generation with many labels. Some are worn proudly, such as resilient, expressive and open-minded, but others are slapped on with bias, including entitled, self-obsessed and inattentive.
Either way, millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, currently making up 40 per cent and on track to account for 75 per cent by 2025, according to the 2020 Global Talent Trends report by LinkedIn.
Millennials are classified as those born between 1981 and 1997. This means that the oldest millennials will be turning 40 this year. Even though 89 per cent of talent professionals say a multigenerational workforce makes a company more successful, most companies are disproportionately focused on millennials and Gen Z, given their digital skills.
Millennials are the children that Time magazine in 2013 described as “technology-addled narcissists”, but almost a decade later, this generation is reaching senior management positions and building new teams and systems.
If you are worried about the pre-conceived negative notions surrounding millennials, it is reassuring to know that it is these very labels that could save our workforce.
Stubborn? Yes – for accountability
Resilience remains their hallmark. A 2021 Deloitte Global survey looked at more than 14,650 millennials and showed that despite the most challenging event in recent years, they remained steadfast in their desire to be heard.
With extreme climate events, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and a charged sociopolitical atmosphere globally, this is the generation fighting every day to compel change in society and the world of work.
On a mission for accountability, millennials are most likely to call out racial and sexist profiling and eschew companies and employers whose actions conflict with their values. This is the generation that is helping us to stay relevant and inclusive, and also to replace outdated perspectives.
Job-hopping is inevitable
Millennials are not job-hoppers – when considering historical context. LinkedIn data shows that the current average job tenure of a millennial is half that of a Gen Xer (those born between 1965 and 1980). However, that has more to do with where they are in their career than an inclination to be flighty.
The Pew Research Centre, a non-partisan think tank, examined historical data in the US and found that, when adjusted for age, millennials were just as likely to stay at their jobs as Gen Xers when they were the same age.
It is important to note that the job market today is not what Gen Xers and Boomers would remember – riddled with golden opportunities and hefty pensions. Now, job-hopping is inevitable.
Moreover, the increased movement between jobs early on in someone’s career is not out of the ordinary. Having more time to find an ideal job is a bonus for recruiters and hiring managers as the employee will be committed to an organisation to create work in an environment that they believe supports their perfect job requirements.
Millennials are addicted to technology – but is that a problem?
Growing up during key technological shifts means there was seldom a time when millennials were not surrounded by technology. With the launch of companies such as Google, Instagram and Netflix between 1998 and 2007, it seems unlikely that another generation (including Gen Z) will experience changes of this magnitude at this volume any time soon.
We have no choice but to keep up with technology. Having the “middle” generation instinctively understand new technology and systems reduces the cost and time it takes to train and integrate it into the workforce.
New research also shows that every generation is investing in time to pick up new skills. The skills that millennials have in the highest proportion are Adobe Photoshop, data analysis and AutoCAD, compared with Gen X, where sales management, new business development and programme management come up as the most prominent, according to data.
Millennials are not passive
It is 2021 and it has never been easier to work from home, earn a good living and make time for yourself. The shift to this new way of work is why it seems as though millennials are not making the same sacrifices as previous generations.
The reality of millennials, however, paints a different picture. This generation has launched twice as many businesses than Boomers and these young managers are successfully leading large teams in a never-before-seen competitive market.
As we critique and create the future of our workforce, it is important to note that the only way forward is to allow generations to blaze their own path, rather than have them follow in our footsteps. All previous generations challenged the values of those before them. Millennials are no exception and they seem to be doing it just fine.
Arda Atalay is the head of the Mena private sector at LinkedIn Talent Solutions