Advice & Blog
Millennials at work: what does research really say?
Posted on July 19, 2017
Look everywhere and you’ll see claims being made about what millennials are like.
Some claims are negative: they’re lacking in work ethic (Marston, 2009) or overly self-confident and self-absorbed (Pew Research Center, 2007). Some commentators go further, labelling millennials the ‘Look at Me’ generation.
Other claims are positive: they are more accepting of diversity, more comfortable working in teams, better communicators and better with technology (Myers & Sadaghiani 2010).
Who’s right and who’s wrong? That’s what we’ll look at it in this article.
But firstly, let’s just establish why all this is important: as organisations look to improve the employee experience to drive wellbeing and productivity, these types of claims will likely influence the process, particularly as the concentration of millennials in the workplace rises
We tend to say similar things about the generations before us
Millennials have been called difficult to interact with, absorbed and service-focused (Hira 2007), yet boomers were described in very similar terms (Seligman, 1969)
Meanwhile, they’ve been called entitled and self-absorbed, yet in 1976 Tom Wolfe said exactly the same thing about the baby boomer generation who were the same age as many millennials are now.
In short, as Deal, Altman & Rogelberg (2010) point out, beliefs about the next generation entering the workforce have remained 'remarkably stable' for 40 years.