Emergence of Millennial Population within the Workforce

Updated November 24, 2021

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Emergence of Millennial Population within the Workforce essay

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Millennials are the most recent generation to arrive in the workforce and are “emerging onto the business scene as a new population group” (Weber). With this emergence, there are distinct differences that exist amongst this latest group of entrants as compared to the preceding generations consisting of baby boomers and Gen Xers. The idea of inclusion will become central to the continuing integration of millennials within the workforce. This paper seeks to explore the behaviors commonly associated with millennials, attitudes surrounding this group and the rise of a stereotype, and how employers and businesses need to examine their current structure and culture to withstand this new developing group.

Millennials are generally classified as being born between the years of 1980 and 2000 (Zemke 128) and they will be working alongside the generations that have come before them due to the increase in human lifespan and individuals choosing to work beyond traditional retirement age. According to Zemke, millennials aspire to specific careers fields with the most popular being “education and teaching, medicine, business, computer related fields, law and psychology” (Zemke 143). Millennials are a closely watched and studied group due to the technology boom that has occurred over their lifespan.

Attributes that positively characterize this group include diversity, being tech-savvy, and their desire to be socially conscious (Pepperdine). They are not afraid of long hours and challenging work but request the flexibility of being able to perform outside of the traditional 8 to 5 workdays. They demand their employers to provide technology to complete daily assignments, because they have never known a world without high computing power and they have the propensity to learn quickly while keeping up with the latest trends.

Research highlights distinct differences that exist between the millennial group and the generations that have come before them. “The Nexters will be the best-educated generation ever, and they will probably continue their education into adulthood to keep up with the rapidly changing technology” (Zemke 144). In addition to advanced traditional education levels, this generation has had greater access to information and global connectivity than in past generations. Weber tells us “Millennials are more self-focused and less other-focused than managers from the 1980’s or 2010’s” (Weber). Other surveys have been completed and have “found millennials to be the most tolerant of all the generations” (Zemke 137). This new generation of employees place value on their employability and flexibility while preceding generations valued job security and structure (Pepperdine).

Although some of the characteristics of millennials appear to be advantageous and desirable, there is an underlying concern for organizations as they face the influx of these employees. The idea exists in business circles that employers do not feel that the millennial graduates are entering the workforce with the skills required to do the job. Surveys indicate that employers are “dissatisfied with graduates” and their “attitude and aptitude for work” (Harris). The New York Times reported in one article, “Older generations of workers are sometimes annoyed and perplexed by millennials, many of whom want to take on big projects and responsibilities right off the bat, whereas earlier generations expected to pay their dues first” (Carey). This young workforce knows how to access information quickly but has not learned that application takes time and practice.

Despite the positive traits, the same generation has been labeled as tough to manage, lazy, and entitled (Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace). The negative characteristics of this generation have influenced the current stereotype of the millennial. Definitions surrounding the current stereotype can change over time as society builds in context to fit current environment and constructions. Sinek argues that the instant gratification mentality of this generation was developed through no fault of their own and believes both society and poor parenting practices have nurtured this type of behavior; over time creating a generation with very little patience to truly understand job satisfaction and the strength of relationships (Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace).

Businesses are at a crossroad. Lessons have been learned from the study of micro-aggression and business do not want to repeat mistakes of the past by marginalizing the millennial group because it is the workforce of the future. General categories are problematic because they cannot encompass every person and at the same time describe with absolute certainty. Assumptions and categorization are dangerous because they lead to stereotypes. Within organizations, leaders are beginning to ask millennials what they need to participate productively in the workplace (Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace). However, it is not enough to simply understand what the millennial generation wants. Leaders in organizations should design their company culture in a way that “acts more like a community than the typical corporate hierarchy- a community in which profits fuel the drive to fulfill a larger purpose” (Hollender 56).

Businesses need to be prepared to adapt and Zemke provides examples on what should be considered to assist with the inclusion of this population. He mentions being prepared to spend ample “time for orienting” (Zemke 146) to work environment. This generation needs to have the details of the organization and culture clearly defined so they know what the expectations are and how to complete assignments in the acceptable framework. As new entrants, they need mentorship and guidance to an extent not previously needed. Traditional “gender roles” (Zemke 147) do not exist with millennials, as they have not been exposed to the same barriers to entry as previous generations. Zemke warns that businesses need to “be sensitive to the potential for conflict when Xers and Nexters work side by side” (Zemke 147). Each group’s approach to problems is vastly different based on their education, access to information, and individual levels

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