Millennials Aren’t Lazy. We’re Just Misunderstood.

I’ve heard many professionals of the older generations throw out the stereotype that millennials are lazy when their employees don’t perform well. There are definitely people of my generation who expect life to be handed to them. They’re entitled. They have unrealistic expectations, but there are people of every age who act this way. Millennials aren’t lazy. We’re just misunderstood.

I’d be lying if I said that I’m excited to work every day for the next forty-something years. That’s normal, though. Full-time work isn’t easy. In addition, most people my age just finished a four-year vacation from any responsibilities other than performing well in school. It makes sense that we aren’t jumping for joy to wear a suit every day when we used to wear athletic closing most of the time. However, this doesn’t mean millennials are lazy.

Personally, like many of my friends, I have consistently held two jobs since I graduated from college. Combined, my jobs quench my thirst for writing, helping people, making an impact, putting me out of my comfort zone, and using my skills. I couldn’t find a job that I liked that checked all of my boxes, so I have a full-time job and freelance work. Many millennials hold multiple jobs, which isn’t lazy. We are paying for our student debts, and we are pursuing our passions. 

What drives millennials is much different than what drives older generations.

We don’t crave the same things that older generations do. We crave adventure and finding our passions. We work hard on the things that make us feel alive. We like fast-paced environments and trying new things.

Bad jobs build character, foster understanding, and teach a lot of other cliché life lessons, so those who expect the best jobs right out of school are unreasonable. However, this does not define the people of my entire generation. Most of us expect to work the worst jobs right out of school, but that doesn’t mean we are inspired by the same factors as older professionals.

From my experience working with young professionals, I can easily throw out a few simple, key strategies that inspire hard work for millennials.

  1. Get to know them. Learn who this person is. Find out what drives them. Just talk to them. Ask them what their passions are and what they do for fun. Ask them how you can help them succeed in their role. If you care about your employees, they will care about what you think of them and want to perform well for you. As a millennial, they already feel slightly uncertain of their place in life, so if you can be a mentor to them, they will do whatever they can to impress you.
  2. Relate to them.Let them know that they’re your friend, and find out what mode of management fits them best. Some people work better under pressure, and some people work better by themselves. You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Understanding your employee’s work ethic will go a very long way. Again, millennials are looking for a role model, whether or not we know it. If you can show them that you want to understand them as a person and an employee, they will shine.
  3. Cheer them on. When your young employees are successful, let them know that you see it. People like to see that others notice them. It’s encouraging and shows that they aren’t just another number. When someone receives positive feedback, it triggers endorphins. Happy employees are good employees. It’s as simple as that. People like to do things that they are good at.
  4. Let them make an impact. Employees want to see that they are making a difference. Assign them duties that allow them to do something worthwhile for the company. As a millennial, we want to make an impact in the world. We want to feel empowered and like we’re worth something. It’s a great feeling to know that your efforts are helping someone or something somewhere.
  5. Reward them. Reward them with a compliment. Reward them with more responsibility. Reward them by recognizing them in front of your team or company. Reward them by patting them on the back. Millennials love to innovate, so if you grant them the chance to express their ideas, they will work extremely hard for you.

All of this being said, management tactics vary from company to company and job to job. I’m not saying that as millennials, we deserve a manager that goes above and beyond for us. The points above are great strategies for any employee. Some of you may even be reading this and thinking, “I’m their superior—they should be catering to me,” and you’d be right. Any employee should be trying our hardest no matter what. I’m simply saying that if you want to see even greater results with your millennial employees, you must first understand them. Assess your management style, question everything you’re doing, try out these approaches, come up with new processes, and constantly reflect on your changes. What could it hurt?