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Onboarding employees is a critical first step to ensuring your company’s success. This can help your new hires learn how to navigate the landscape of your organization, build relationships and find out where and how to access resources as they get started. As older generations begin retiring, it’s also important to recognize the new breed of workers that are entering the workforce, who may think and act differently. By onboarding millennials (those in their early 20s and 30s) the right way, you can enable productive and motivated employees for years to come. To do that, it is helpful to first understand some of the myths and realities related to millennials in the workplace.
A multigenerational study was conducted by IBM Institute for Business Value that set out to find the truth behind some common millennial myths. The study surveyed 1784 employees, across 12 countries and 6 industries to compare the preferences and behavioral patterns of millennials with those of generation X (aged 35-49) and baby boomers
Here are the top 5 myths they debunked:
Millennials’ career goals and expectations are different from those of older generations.
FACT: Millennials have similar career aspirations as their older colleagues.
In this category, the study actually found no major differences, for all three generations. Adults in their early twenties and thirties place the same importance on career goals and have the same expectations when it comes to financial security, seniority, and strategic leadership. Furthermore, millennials appreciate coaching and mentorship from managers, knowing that having defined goals and building a career path will enable them for success.
Millennials want constant acclaim and think everyone on the team should get a trophy.
FACT: Millennials value ethics and transparency above all other leadership traits.
Millennials have grown up and appreciate being recognized as adults. When asked what makes a perfect boss, millennials said they want a manager who is ethical, fair and also values transparency and dependability. A boss who recognizes their accomplishments and asks for their input was lower on the list of importance. In fact, it was the gen X employees who scored higher for wanting recognition for team efforts. Millennials will appreciate being treated fairly and as a result, this can boost their confidence and enable high performance behavior.
Millennials are digital addicts who want to do – and share – everything online, without regard for personal and professional boundaries.
FACT: Millennials enjoy social media tools, but they understand corporate boundaries and are able to work within them.
When it comes to learning new skills at work, millennials prioritize face-to-face contact over digital options. As for respecting professional boundaries in social media, it’s actually the younger generation (not gen X or boomers) who are more likely to draw a firm line separating their personal and professional lives. Looking into social media habits can provide tremendous insight into what motivates and interests millennials, which can help you find a more meaningful way to engage with them.
Millennials, unlike their older colleagues, can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in.
FACT: Millennials are collaborative and will seek different perspectives for better decision making.
Millennials are more likely than their older colleagues to solicit advice at work. Both millennials and gen X workers prefer to consult a variety of sources to inform their decisions – much more so than the independent-minded baby boomers. In fact, as the business landscape becomes more interconnected and complex, organizations would be well-served by tapping into a variety of sources to inform their decisions.
Millennials are more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.
FACT: Millennials are looking for job satisfaction and career growth.
All three generations change jobs for similar reasons. Millennials, gen X’ers and baby boomers all cited the same top four motivating factors for changing jobs: to enter the fast lane (by far the most popular for all generations), shoot for the top, follow one’s heart, or save the world.
Like their elders, millennials care about getting ahead and making a difference. Although nearly one-third of them have already had five or six jobs, switching careers seems to be less about wanderlust and more as a result of current post-recession economic conditions.
If you’re interested in learning about onboarding millennials and how to develop them into high performing employees, read our post on making workplace learning millennial-friendly. Employees are the most valuable tool organizations have to compete in the world today. Making an attempt to understand their concerns early during the onboarding process, will yield a happier and more productive workforce in your organization.