Millennials sure took a beating in the media last week. What can we learn?
Let’s start with Fortune magazine, which reported on a statistical study released Tuesday on millennial employment four years after college. There was good news there. The overall unemployment rate for the cohort was 6.7 percent, at wages at or above the median, for the most part. Not bad for a group that many pundits predict will “never realize the American Dream” and are permanently doomed economically because they are crushed by student-loan debt and scarred by the Great Recession.
There was some really bad news in the same study, though. The generation that is more multicultural and multi-ethnic than any in American history, and less likely to tolerate gender discrimination, is already experiencing the gender pay gap and racism in hiring.
Now let’s consider this article posted on The Atlantic website Tuesday, “Millennials' Political Views Don't Make Any Sense.” If you want to catch the real flavor of the story, check out its URL, which says “millennials-economics-voting-clueless-kids-these-days.”
The author makes three points based, again, on statistics: Millennials like government programs until they start making real money, then not so much. Millennials don’t understand economics. Millennials are kind of fuzzy on the differences between socialism and capitalism.
OK. That’s really two-and-a-half points, because if you don’t know much about economics, you’re going to have trouble with the details.
I look at that and ask myself how these points make millennials any different from any other generation at that stage in life. You grow up, you grow older, you learn, you change. And there also are too many economic policy-makers who don’t understand economics. Just as there are too many politicians who have co-opted terms like “socialism” and “capitalism” so that it’s no wonder people don’t grasp their actual meanings.
Give the kids a break.
After this manager’s rant, they could use one. Stop me if you’ve heard it before — millennials are unable to take criticism, lack basic job skills, are ambitious but don’t want to put in the time to earn their promotions, are not ready for the work world, etc.
To which I say, I have yet to meet one of these over-privileged prima donnas. However, over my career I have endured arrogant, over-bearing bosses who don’t know how to deliver constructive criticism or set measurable job performance expectations. No one will thrive and learn in the stressful environments they create.
So if you are letting all the generalized negative chatter about millennial-this and millennial-that influence your hiring decisions, you most likely are missing out on great candidates. In the end, it’s the qualities of the individual and the working relationship between supervisor and subordinate, and among team members, that determine success.
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While I was writing this Friday, upstairs in our boardroom an executive roundtable was taking place on “making place” in the midstate. As I was wrapping up, so were they — and, by coincidence, the participants concluded with some important things to say about recruiting and retaining millennial employees at their companies.
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