Misconception or truth? Millennial workplace stereotypes challenge staffing and recruiting agencies

Millennials may have an image problem. The generation, loosely considered those who were born between 1980 and 1995, are either in the workplace or about to be and unfortunately are viewed in less than flattering terms by many older professionals. Articles and web pages exploring the impact of millennials or dealing with them in the workplace have exploded on the Internet and a quick Google search for “generation Y or millennials and workforce or workplace” can result in about 72.5 million results, according to ZDNet. Meaning having the right staffing software for strong candidate placement is vital. 

A recent survey from Beyond.com, a career network, has found that baby boomers and millennials have a drastic difference in opinion about how the younger generation stacks up.

There is a number of stereotypes about this generation floating around – they’re tech-savvy, lazy and disloyal to employers. But, are these characteristics of an entire generation true?

Are millennials narcissistic?
It’s common to hear older generations comment on the narcissistic qualities of millennials. The Wall Street Journal reported that American college students scored 30 percent higher on the 40-item Narcissistic Personality Index in 2006 than they did in 1979, according to a San Diego State University study. An analysis of the University of California Los Angeles’ annual survey found that 53 percent more American college students rated themselves “above average” in writing skills than did so in 1966 –  and 13 percent more did so for math in 2009. Yet SAT scores decreased 4 percent over the same period.

Many believe this is a result of the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality that was rampant in the mid-90s. However, it is important to remember not to paint the entire generation with the same brush.

“There are always going to be some who are lazy and entitled, but they are people who give back to society,” said Dan Schawbel, a millennial who founded a research firm focused on his own generation, and the author of ‘Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success.'”

Can millennials follow authority figures?
The idea that millennials don’t want to or refuse to follow the direction of managers and other leaders is common enough, and yet proven wrong in a number of studies. A study from the Center for Creative Leadership has found that millennials currently in the workforce are more willing to defer to authority than either baby boomers or generation X, reported Strategy Business. In a sample of 5,000 respondents, millennials were much more likely than the previous two generations to agree with statements like “Employees should do what their manager tells them, even when they can’t see the reason for it.”

Psychologists believe this is because millennials were taught early on and throughout their schooling that doing as they were told would result in success. The “what do I need to do to get an A?” mentality.

Do millennials lack company loyalty?
The concept that millennials lack company loyalty in comparison to previous generations is actually an interesting falsehood, according to a study from the Center for Creative Leadership. Strategy Business reported that millennials are no less committed to their employers than baby boomers or generation X – at this time. Most references to company loyalty come from previous decades when the economy was much different and when it was the cultural norm to stay with an organization. This has largely changed for every worker in any generation, millennials just grew up with this mentality and were introduced to it at a much younger age. In addition, the lack of full-time positions available and increased usage of contingent or part-time labor has contributed to this change in mentality.

It’s important to remember that every generation suffers its own stereotypes. It wasn’t that long ago that the baby boomer generation was referred to as lazy or anti-establishment because many chose to protest the Vietnam War or social injustices. Every generation has to work to gain the trust and respect of the previous generation, who’s worried about passing the reins of the nation and its economy to a younger group. Staffing professionals can use their staffing software to better ensure that they are managing strong candidate placement – regardless of what generation the worker is a part of.