Millennials in the Workplace: 5 Myths (& the Truths Behind Them)

Millennials are the up-and-coming generation of working professionals.

Born between 1980-2000, Millennials now make up over half of the workforce in Canada and the United States. As a Millennial myself, I am well aware of the sweeping statements and large generalizations that are often made about our generation. Ranging from partial truths to the downright ridiculous, some of these myths can negatively impact Millennials in the workplace.


Here are 5 of those myths and the truths to set the story straight: 

Myth: Millennials are lazy and do not want to work hard. 

Truth: Millennials are slowly redefining what a workplace and work culture looks like. Our wants and needs are not derived from laziness, but rather grow from what has become broken in the corporate world. Multi-faceted in our dreams and goals, we seek a workplace where we can both succeed at our jobs and pursue our passions in life.

In a recent study by Bentley University, 77 per cent of Millennials agree that flexible work hours would make their workplace more productive. Some companies have succeeded at introducing flex-hours, creating happier and more engaged employees as a result – both Millennials and non-Millennials.

Additionally, as the “always-on” generation, we are much more accessible outside of the workplace than employees have ever been. The vast majority of Millennials own a smartphone and over 89 per cent admit to regularly checking their work email after work hours. 

Myth: Millennials are job-hoppers who do not believe in company loyalty.

Truth: We want to feel part of something bigger than our jobs. We are much more likely to stay with a company that is transparent and engaging. We want employers who are ethical and fair, not gluttonous and harsh. We are loyal to those who care about us; this is something that has been slowly changing the culture of management and continues to make developments.

We are also not quite as different as one may believe. A survey conducted by IBM showed that Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Baby Boomers all change jobs for similar reasons. They cite more money and a more creative workplace as their top reasons for switching employers. 

Myth: Millennials are digital addicts who want to do everything online. 

Truth: Yes, almost all of us have smartphones, laptops, and tablets. We enjoy texting and social media in our personal lives, but it turns out we are not so absorbed in technology at work. Over half of the respondents in the Bentley study said they would prefer to talk to colleagues in person, rather than by email, phone, text, or chat.

As well, IBM found that Millennials’ preferred methods for learning new skills at work were also not digitally inclined. The top three methods include: attending a third-party conference, attending in-person classroom training, and working alongside knowledgeable colleagues.

Myth: Millennials are entitled and need instant gratification for a job well done.

Truth: We do not want a trophy just for showing up, but we do want feedback. We are used to instant information – not gratification – because we grew up in the digital age where the answers to our questions are just one click away. No, simply waiting for a yearly review will not suit us well. Check in with us from time to time and let us know if we are meeting your expectations and what we can do better. Providing both positive and constructive feedback engages employees and creates a better environment for success.

Myth: Millennials’ career expectations are too high. 

Truth: As it turns out, Millennials’ career expectations are not that different from our older coworkers. According to IBM, Millennials put the same weight on many of the same career goals as Gen X’ers and Baby Boomer’s. Goals such as making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and/or environmental challenges, and working with a diverse group of people were similar for all three generations surveyed.

Where we do differ, it seems, is the definition of success. To Millennials, success does not simply mean climbing the corporate ladder. The study conducted by Bentley University reported that 66 per cent of Millennials want to start their own business, 37 per cent would like to work on their own, and only 13 per cent aspire to become CEO or president of the company they work for. Achievement is measured in different ways by Millennials and, though we may not all take the traditional career path, we all aim to succeed.

Here is the real truth: We are not one unit; we are all wildly unique and cannot fit into one mould. We are reshaping the workplace just as generations before us did. We are redefining what a career looks like. We are capable, inspired professionals seeking a workplace where we will flourish and find a way to make an impact on the world.