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Data Debunks Millennial Myths

Dispelling common stereotypes of the millennial work ethic

Lazy, entitled, digital addicts; these stigmas have typified an entire generation. In fact, a caricature of the millennial worker would likely show the entitled youngster being a recipient of multiple participation trophies, adverse to hard work and fixated on perks like snack bars, beer carts, and sleeping pods. In 2013, Time Magazine dubbed them the ‘Me, Me, Me Generation’.

The fundamental distinction between the older and the younger generations is their digital proficiency. Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in the digital world. For these digital natives, using tech gadgets, having real-time access to data and constant communication comes as second nature. However, the negative image promulgated by the media and businesses over the years, that the millennials have a poor worth ethic compared to the baby boomer generation, lacks quantifiable and consensual evidence.

Hence, while there are certainly differences in how they approach work, emerging research is starting to turn traditional thinking about the generation gap on its head. A global multigenerational study published by the IBM Institute has shown that the numerous stereotypes of the millennial generation are mere exaggerations.

We explore some of these common perceptions in more depth and round up the top three busted myths, proving that millennials’ attitudes are not poles apart from other employees’.

Myth 1: Lazy

Apparently millennials are too lazy to bother even eating cereal because it requires having to wash up after, according to the Washington Post. However, a worldwide study revealed that far from being abhorrently lazy, millennials are driving the rising culture of work martyrdom. This jibes with other research that shows millennials think about work more so than other age groups. A major downside of being digital natives in this tech-savvy age is that they are consistently connected to the workplace. The workplace is no longer just a physical place but has become a state of mind.

Myth 2: Entitled

Another broad-brushed criticism of the generation is its entitled disposition. However, rather than expecting handouts, James Cairns, in his book ‘The Myth of the Age of Entitlement’, elucidates, “with drops in key quality of life measures and shrinking social security nets, millennials are being forced to expect less and literally entitled to comparatively less than what was taken for granted by their parents’ generations.” Thus, contrary to popular belief, this seems to show that older generations are actually more entitled. 

In the workplace, millennials are keen learners and highly value development opportunities in a company. According to a recent Gallup poll, 87% of Millennials want professional development opportunities yet only one-third feel their organisation optimising their skills and experience. In a study done by Randstad's Workmonitor research, 62 per cent of Singaporean employees, regardless of age, do not mind handling work-related matters in their own time, while 41 per cent choose to keep across their work during holidays as they like to stay involved.

Myth 3: Digital Addicts

Without a doubt, millennials are adept at social media interaction. A study by consultancy, Ernst & Young, revealed that the average person in Singapore spends close to 13 hours a day on digital devices. Interestingly however, far from wanting to do everything virtually, when it comes to acquiring new work-related knowledge and skills, for instance, the study done by the IBM Institute highlights that millennials in general, prioritise personal interaction and face-to-face contact. Also, they are quite capable of keeping their personal and professional realms separate and exercising discretion when they use social media.

The growth in counter-cultural movements toward more minimalistic lifestyles might also mean that these millennials are unenthused and slowing but surely falling out of love with the constant technological connectivity.

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