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How to better engage millennials (and why they aren't really so different)

Rich Hein | June 13, 2013
Millennials aren't so different... when you get down to the core principles of what millennials want in the workplace, they want what any good employee would want from his or her employer.

Millennial Myths and Misconceptions
Many older generations label millennials as entitled, disloyal and narcissistic, but when you get to down to the roots of the issue, it becomes more evident that they are simply misunderstood.

Are they really as different as what is portrayed by the media or is it simply that generational friction is the norm? In either case, employers really need to get out of this mindset because baby boomers, according to Pew Research, are retiring at a rate of about 10,000 a day and the millennials of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.

With that in mind spoke with industry experts and researchers to help dispel myths and to find out what companies can do to close the generational gap and more successfully engage with their millennial employees and prospects.

Myth or Truth? Millennials Need Continuous Feedback
While this may be true, if you consider where millennials are coming from and what the end game is, it only makes sense, according to Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of the upcoming book, "Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success."

"Millennials want continuous feedback. From an employer, this is seen as a 'need' but they should see it as individuals who are just starting out in their career; they are trying to grow and figure out what they can be doing better," says Schawbel. Offering more feedback where applicable can help them grow and bring them up to speed faster.

Myth or Truth? Millennials Are Disloyal
Is this really a surprise? This is a generation that has watched big business let them down, a la the Wall Street meltdown, golden parachutes for the top dogs, the removal of incentives like pensions, 401Ks, and other benefits. Many experts agree that the time of working for one employer for your entire career is over.

The average worker, according to BLS statisitcs, has been in his/her position for 4.4 years. If you look around at different research, millennials typically leave a job on average between 1.5 and two years.

Being distrustful of companies and corporations isn't something that millennials have the market cornered on either, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers are seeing the same market conditions, but with age, perhaps, comes a bit of risk aversion.

Myth or Truth? Millennials Feel Entitled
Many bosses complain that Millennials have an attitude of entitlement, but Pamela Rucker, chairwoman of the CIO Executive Council's Executive Women in IT, argues that in her experience it's a misconception.

Rucker says that these are individuals who are relatively new to the workforce and don't understand what it takes to get to the next level. "You can't just show up, do your job and expect raises and promotions. It's really important for us to show them what true participation is and what true outcomes and deliveries look like, because they shouldn't be thinking that if they just share their ideas and attend meetings that they've done a good job. It's a misperception that their lazy; they just don't know what they need to deliver," says Rucker.


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