The use of the telephone was rejected for much of the late 19th century. Automobiles were ridiculed and dismissed as a fad. Televisions were the new craze in the 40s but weren’t expected to hold interest for very long (source).
Change doesn’t come easy. Even really great, revolutionary innovations received a ton of criticism and pushback when they first surfaced.
Millennials are a generation of innovators. They’re young adults with great ideas that can change the world. It’s no surprise that older generations tend to resist the changes that come with these ideas. There are a few misconceptions and myths about millennials that we need to put an end to so you can actually benefit from what millennials have to offer in your workplace.
Millennials are Lazy
Sure, some millennials are lazy, but so are some Gen Xers and some baby boomers. That’s an individual trait, not a generational one.
Some might say that millennials don’t understand the value of hard work or that they’re afraid to get their hands dirty. A better way to phrase this might be that millennials value efficiency. We’re in a time now when tasks are being automated and we’re freeing up our minds and bodies for more important things. Programming a computer to perform the grunt work can allow us to focus on the more pressing matters, which is pretty smart.
What’s even better is that environments can become safer for workers if hazardous situations no longer require physical human presence. By automating certain tasks, we remove the hazards to employees and create a safer workplace with fewer injuries. Very smart.
Millennials are Entitled
In the workplace, many millennials just want to be respected and treated fairly, as they deserve. We work hard to get where we are in life and at our jobs, so it’s only fair to expect equality among everyone, no matter our age.
Safety is something that every employee is entitled to. Make sure you’re giving them the proper tools to do a job safely and effectively or you might not see the attitudes and commitment that you want on your team.
Providing the right tools could start with quality safety training and materials. 1980s training videos (on VHS, no less) aren’t the resources you should be equipping them with. You may need to modernize your safety program a little bit to make a positive impact with them, but it’s totally worth it. Using a modern training platform, like Ving, is a big step in the right direction. Millennials are technological natives, and you should provide resources that are on their level of modernity and efficiency.
Millennials Have No Respect for Authority
Many young adults today challenge the idea of following management no matter what. They’re more likely to ask why or to give their own suggestions for improvement. But it’s not out of lack of respect; it’s to help improve the workplace and its practices. If something can be made more efficient or effective, why not try it?
Millennials know how to work hard and put in the effort, but they want to know that their efforts are given to a good cause. Questioning leadership may seem like undermining authority, but really they just want to make sure they’re taking solid steps toward accomplishing a reasonable goal. Think things through and do things right the first time, right? Measure twice, cut once. Challenging ideas and questioning methods can lead to serious improvements in the end.
Millennials, and every generation that follows, are the future workforce. Don’t buy into all of the myths about millennials. Focus on what they have to offer you, your company, and your industry. You have so many assets in your multigenerational workforce, and it’s crucial that you recognize what kinds of talents and skills are on your team.