Q & A on Millennials In the Workplace

Portrait of a smiling business woman with an afro in bright glass office


Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are stereotyped for having a poor work ethic, being job hoppers and not respecting authority. But are these generalizations true?

Stereotypes or reality, you will have to be ready to embrace millennials because most generational researchers estimate that by 2020, millennials will make up half of the US Workforce. In this article we will answer your most pressing questions about millennials, set stereotypes aside and look at what research says about the newest and largest generation in the workplace.

Q: How long should we expect Millennials to stay on the job?

Fifty-four percent of college-educated millennials expect to work for between 2 and 5 employers over their entire career. They will change jobs every few years and this “job hopping” is beneficial to both employees and to employers. Employees who stay with a company longer than two years are said to be get paid 50% less, according to Forbes magazine. The benefit of job hopping to employers is job hoppers tend to be high performers and loyal because they care about making a good impression in the short amount of time they know they’ll stay with each employer.

 Q. Do Millennials respect authority?

Yes, millennials respect authority. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership has found that millennials are more likely than previous generations to give respect and loyalty to authority figures. Millennials tend to respect authority based on expertise, loyalty, and experience.

Q: What does it take to engage Millennial workers?

What we know from research into people born between 1980 and 2000 is they are driven, inspired and hard working. Millennials are engaged when they feel they are making a contribution, doing meaningful work and when they feel valued by the organization. The Center for Generational Kinetics has identified 5 key drivers to engaging millennials:

  1. I feel I am valued in this organization.

  2. I have confidence in the leadership of this organization.

  3. I like the type of work that I do.

  4. Most days, I feel I have made progress at work.

  5. This organization treats me like a person, not a number.

Myra discusses her work on generations in the workplace in the video below

Q: How do Millennials like to learn?

Millennials like to proactively seek out knowledge when learning. They like getting how-to tips from YouTube, forums, blog posts and other social media. In the workplace, professional development needs to engage millennials’ preference for technology, videos and interactivity. Blended learning solutions that include highly interactive classroom training, dynamic eLearning, videos and discussions will best teach millennials.


Q: What skill do Millennials most need to learn in order to succeed in the workplace?

Millennials spent their formative years engaged with technology. Entire relationships were built over text messages and social media. Instead of hanging out at the roller rink or out riding bicycles, they were more likely to converse with friends through short digital messages. As a result, millennials need help with people skills. Providing professional development opportunities that emphasize empathy, human relations skills and public speaking will build their confidence and position them to create more value in their work.

Millennials are some of the brightest and most loyal employees you’ll ever have. Provide them the opportunity to do meaningful work, relentlessly focus on keeping them engaged and keep them learning. When you do, they will reward you with creativity and loyalty.

Myra Golden is a customer experience and diversity keynote speaker and trainer. For information on Myra’s keynotes and training sessions, please click here. 

Review an actual slide deck from one of Myra’s recent keynotes on generations in the workplace.

Myra Golden Generations Keynote Slide Deck

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Sources cited

Keng, Cameron, Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less, Forbes magazine, June 22, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cameronkeng/2014/06/22/employees-that-stay-in-companies-longer-than-2-years-get-paid-50-less/#3e7af36c210e

CBS New, Why Job Hoppers Make the Best Employees, April 23, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-job-hoppers-make-the-best-employees/

Center for Generational Kinetics, Unlocking Millennial Talent 2015. Retrieved from: http://genhq.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Unlocking-Millennial-Talent-c-2015-The-Center-for-Generational-Kinetics.pdf

Developing Leaders, Center for Creative Leadership. Retrieved from: http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/capabilities/GenerationY.pdf