How negative millennial stereotypes can be shaped into opportunities

By Lucinda Ross 

Lazy, impatient, unprofessional and narcissistic – these are some of the negative stereotypes associated with millennials. However, whether companies like it or not, Generation Y is slowly entering the job market and is predicted to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. With this shift along with the rapidly evolving digital movement, old and established companies will be forced to abandon traditional structures or prepare to fall behind. With smaller, start-ups recognising millennials’ traits and turning them into opportunities for agility – can older, more established firms really afford to lose out? It begs the question of how far companies need to go to adapt to millennials. Perhaps the solution lies in turning these negative stereotypes of millennials into opportunities to gain a competitive edge.

1.Millennial Stereotype number one: millennials are informal and unprofessional

Employers are becoming more flexible when it comes to the 9-5 working day. Millennials have a reputation of rebelling against top-down structure and formal working hours; and companies are adapting to flexible working days to accommodate this growing trend. Implementing agile working policies may seem like a hindrance to traditional corporations and the Generation X-ers who are used to a formal 9-5 structure but agile working is proving to boost productivity. Despite millennials disliking structure standing out as a negative stereotype, this leeway in employees’ timetables might be the answer to getting the job done more efficiently.

2.Millennial Stereotype number two: millennials don’t respect authority

Like the 9-5 working day, millennials are literally breaking down the walls when it comes to hierarchy. Bureaucratic, top down hierarchies are slowly changing to flat structures and the popularity of open plan offices where everyone works together regardless of their job position is becoming more and more popular. As a result of this shift in structure; millennials are considered obnoxious when dealing with top management.  Team work and sharing skills have never been regarded as negative for productivity, rather the contrary, so why should companies maintain a divide between top management and junior employees?

3.Millennial Stereotype number three: Job-hopping

On average millennials will have 15 jobs in their lifetime. Baby boomers, who typically stay in one company for the duration of their working life, view this as a lack of loyalty and respect to the business. Successful start-ups like Uber and Deliveroo are taking advantage of the growing popularity of the gig economy whereby employees work on a short-term or freelance base instead of signing a permanent job contract. With the gig economy on the rise, large companies such as Nokia and Apple are noticing the opportunities of agility and are taking on short-term contractors to accommodate this trend. Simon Sinek recently highlighted the growing job dissatisfaction amongst millennials, which is linked to their insatiable desire for instant gratification. He stated that many millennials often quit their jobs because they “aren’t making an impact” within the first year seeing as there is no shortcut to career success. Despite the argument that low job retention is linked with poor satisfaction, lack of motivation and an insatiable ideology of “the perfect job” millennials are raking in more experience and skills faster than those who remain in one industry for ten years. However, companies who are entering the gig economy are not merely falling into the trap of high recruitment fees and a rapid turnover; they are noticing the efficiency of agility and reaping the benefits of skill sharing from a contractor who has more experience of different markets than their seniors.

Whether they’re seen as obnoxious and lazy or tech savvy and agile, companies cannot afford to ignore the rise of millennials and their unique ways of working. Here at ReputationInc we believe that reputation is, in part, shaped internally by employees’ perceptions and this affects how external stakeholders view your company. Employees can be the best company ambassadors, which is especially relevant to the tech savvy millennial; therefore it is more important than ever to foster talent and loyalty amongst this growing generation. Companies who are taking advantage of skills sharing and flat structures are reaping the benefits more than traditional companies who are afraid of knocking down the walls to a more modern and productive working environment.


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