4 Myths About Millennials (And the Reality!)

Posted By: John Hindman, Director of Learning Services, Tooling U-SME on February 27, 2018

A top condition of a manufacturer’s competitiveness is access to a talented workforce. Yet we are in challenging times: U.S. Labor Department data indicates that as of June 2017, some 419,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled.

But, hey! The millennial generation is made up of 92 million people! That’s the answer!

Unfortunately, myths about millennials get in the way of that simple solution, as I discuss in my recent webinar, “Embracing Millennials: Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap and Gaining a Competitive Edge.” When it comes to expectations in the workforce, a disconnect between manufacturers and millennials can hamper a company’s growth and competiveness.

In fact, a Tooling U-SME survey shows while most manufacturers (78%) agree millennials are important to their future operations, less than half (40%) say they have a good understanding of this group.

Of course, the generation gap long proceeds even the skills gap. In the webinar, I show magazine covers all touting the misunderstood “me” generations – from 1976, 1997, and 2013 — covering Baby Boomers, Gen X and millennials. Perceiving the next generation as “different” is nothing new!

It’s really an issue of inexperience, compounded by the fact that so many millennials are hitting the workforce at once. We must get past the myths and rely on best practices to develop this important group of manufacturing workers.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths so we can positively change the stereotypes.

Myth #1: Younger generations of millennials have no work ethic.

Reality: Millennials have a for-the-moment work ethic. Millennial employees are dedicated to completing their task well, but have not been raised in a way that demands them to look around and see what needs to be done next. Structure needs to be in place. For success, it’s important to set expectations.

Myth #2: Millennials don’t want to put in the hours to get ahead.

Reality: Millennial employees are willing to put in the time to do the job; however, they are uninterested in “face time.” For them, time is a valuable currency not to be wasted. Remember they came up in a time of uncertainty (layoffs, student debt, environmental issues, terrorist threats). Build trust around a plan offering small rewards in a shorter time frame that string together into a longer-term career pathway.

Myth #3: Millennial employees have no respect for authority.

Reality: Millennial employees have great respect for leaders and loyalty. They do not respect authority “just because.” Loyalty and respect must be earned. But when it is earned, it is given fiercely. The relationship with their manager is critical. If you flip the view of management, this means that you need the right person in place to win their respect.

Myth #4: They don’t want to grow up.

Reality: Millennial employees really don't know how to grow up. The youngest generations in today's workforce are facing a delayed adulthood and just generally facing the "real world" later. You’ve likely heard the stat that 15 percent of 25- to 35-year-old millennials live in their parents’ home. This is a youth issue vs. a millennial issue. Workforce structure can help with this transition.

The bottom line is that millennials represent our greatest opportunity to meet the workforce needs. With their curiosity and desire to push boundaries, millennials offer a unique perspective for the workplace: one that can lead to loyal employees and strong business results.

Companies can build high performers and future leaders by focusing on industry best practices that help millennials, and all employees, feel valued from the moment they walk in the door through their entire career.

For more insights and solutions, we invite you to listen to the archived webinar “ Embracing Millennials: Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap and Gaining a Competitive Edge ” and download a free copy of our white paper for additional tips, insights and best practices.

Tags: "Baby Boomers", "career pathway", "Embracing Millennials: Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap and Gaining a Competitive Edge", "Gen X", "generation gap", manufacturing, millennials, "skills gap", "training and development", "workforce development"