14 misconceptions about millennials
Millennials are the most studied and talked about generation to date. This means that although we know a lot about them, they also get a lot of labels thrown at them that are simply not quite true.
What we do know about millennials, is that they are the generation born between roughly 1980 and 1995. We also know that they go by other names, such as “Generation Y”, “Generation Me” and “Echo Boomers”.
But today’s article doesn’t look at what we know about millennials. It looks at what we think we know about millennials. Here are 14 common misconceptions about millennials that you might want to rethink.
If you still believe some of these myths by the end of the article, then please leave a comment to let us know why.
1. Millennials are unemployed
According to Forbes, the national average for unemployment is 4.9%. The unemployment rate for millennials, however, is a massive 12.8%.
Many people assume that this means millennials are a lazy generation of people who are not interested in finding work. However, a closer look at the statistics tells a different story.
Forbes says that the unemployment rate for 25-35 year olds is only 5.2%, whereas for 18-24 year olds, it is 39%. In other words, the data is very much skewed by the younger half of the millennial generation who are more likely to still be in education.
2. Millennials are too dependent on their parents
The same article by Forbes looks at another common misconception about millennials. According to many people, millennials still live with their parents because they are not independent enough to leave home.
Actually, while it is true that 36% of millennials in the United States “live at home”, this data is very misleading. Forbes states that the number is so high because the US Census classes college dormitories “living at home”.
Once again, this misconception has been largely generated because more millennials are still in full-time education. Not because they are too dependent on their parents.
3. Millennials are not interested in owning their own home
So what about when millennials leave home?
More millennials live in rented accommodation compared to previous generations. Lots of people think that this means that millennials are not interested in owning their own home, but once again, this isn’t quite true.
In fact, according to Goldman Sachs, millennials might actually be more interested in owning their own home than other generations:
-93% of 18-34 year olds eventually wanted to buy their own property
-Only 75% of 35-44 year olds felt the same way
So if you thought millennials were only interested in the here and now, then think again – they’re simply biding their time!
4. Millennials have a misplaced sense of entitlement
Have you ever noticed how people from the millennial generation seem to stride into a new job and expect to be instantly involved in big company decisions? Well, despite what it might look like, this is not a misplaced sense of entitlement.
For many millennials, their upbringing supported individual empowerment. This means that parents raising millennials included their children in almost all family decisions. A very different approach to the more authority-based parental styles of earlier generations.
So while it may feel like a misplaced sense of entitlement, it is actually more accurate to say that millennials want to share responsibility. They are simply behaving in the workplace like they have been taught to behave at home.
5. Millennials have no religion
Older generations are more likely to follow traditional religions. This does not mean, however, that millennials have completely abandoned religion.
In fact, Pew Research Center shows us exactly how religion has shifted for the millennial generation. On the surface, it does indeed look like fewer millennials care about religion. But in reality, many of them are simply moving away from the more traditional views, and moving into the “other” categories.
For example, 2% of millennials class their religion as “other”, compared to the 1% of previous generations. Similarly, 9% of millennials say that they have no clearly defined religion, but that it still plays a very important part in their lives – compared to 5% of previous generations who say the same.
OK, millennials might be less religiously affiliated than their predecessors. But it is a myth to say that religion has no important part in their lives.
6. Millennials don’t care about politics
If millennials don’t care about politics, then why did onlineuniversities.com report that 91% of millennials are registered to vote?
7. Millennials are self-centred
Another interesting find by onlineuniversities.com is that 68% of millennials are actively involved in community service. Does this sound like a self-centred generation?
Lots of people think that millennials always put themselves first, which is where the “Generation Me” title comes from. But in most cases, this seems to be quite a subjective assessment.
According to Russell Moore, each generation historically considers the next generation to be more selfish than their own. Is this just a case of history going around in circles?
8. Millennials are greedy
Millennials want as much as they can possibly get, and then some.
Let’s put this into the perspective of the workplace. A common belief is that millennials are constantly wanting more. They want more pay, more power, and more ways to achieve personal gain.
In actual fact, however, Deloitte research suggests that millennials actually consider a people-focused sense of purpose to be much more important than profits and growth.
9. Millennials are fickle and lack loyalty
While it is true that research suggests millennials are more likely to leave a job, this isn’t necessarily a sign that millennials lack loyalty. In fact, it could simply mean that they are more determined to find the perfect company to apply their full loyalty to.
Gallup found that 60% of millennials are open to new job opportunities. Other studies suggest similar figures. However, a lot of anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that once a millennial finds the company they really believe in, their loyalty often surpasses that of previous generations.
10. Millennials expect more perks at work
If you believe some of the other myths, then you probably also think you need to throw perks and bonuses to millennials in order to keep them happy and stop them leaving. After all, millennials are greedy, fickle and self-centred, right?
Fortune suggests otherwise. Millennials seek organisations with great values more than they seek organisations with great perks.
Of course, perks are nice too.
11. Millennials dislike their predecessors
Some people think that millennials hate their predecessors. And if you read open letters like this one on dailykos.com, I don’t blame you for thinking that!
But while some millennials may indeed hate some baby boomers, this is not a rule that you can apply to the entire generation. In fact, mediapost.com says that 75% of millennials desperately want a mentor. Somebody older and wiser to befriend them, and show them the ways of the world.
Millennials do not, as a rule, dislike people from earlier generations.
12. Millennials do not listen to their superiors
I hear so many people complain that “millennials are selfish, entitled, and they do not listen to advice!”
Well, would you want to listen to advice from somebody who was calling you selfish and entitled? Probably not!
We already mentioned how millennials crave mentorship. Recruitingdaily.com will tell you that millennials do indeed listen. Sure, they won’t listen to everybody. But give them a manager that they trust, and they will be all ears.
13. Millennials know more about technology
Millennials are often seen as the generation that knows everything about technology.
There is some truth to this, but only in the sense that millennials have been more exposed to technology, and therefore they are more likely to be familiar with current trends, new programs, and user interfaces etc. Millennials are digital natives, who are arguably more comfortable using technology.
If we’re talking about actual knowledge of how technology works, however, then millennials are no better than any other generation. In fact, the Nielsen Norman group found that when compared with an older generation, millennials know roughly the same about how technology really works behind the scenes.
14. Millennials are better multitaskers
The final myth we would like to dispel is that millennials are better at multitasking. Once again, information published by the Nielsen Norman group busts this misconception.
There is evidence to show that millennials are more likely to choose to multitask. But they are no “better” at it. A baby boomer statistically has the same ability to multitask as a millennial, it’s just that a baby boomer is more likely to focus on one task at a time, while a millennial is more likely to take on multiple projects at once.
What else do you think you know about millennials?
We’d like to hear some of the other facts and fictions you’ve learned about the millennial generation. We’d also like to hear if you still agree with any of the above misconceptions – did we get any of them wrong? Let us know in the comments below.
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