According to the Pew Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau, in mid-2015, the millennial generation (comprising those born from 1980 to 1995) became the largest cohort in the workforce.
By now, millennials have been in the professional world since the early 00s. The oldest ones turn 36 this year and have progressed substantially in their careers. A 2014 Deloitte millennial leadership study illustrated that due to demographic shifts, the millennials are entering leadership positions an average of 10 years earlier than prior generations. In fact, at the time of the study, half of all global millennial respondents self-identified as leaders, meaning they had decision-making authority and direct reports.
Although millennials have had sufficient time to prove themselves, negative stereotypes persist. And if organizations want to grow and support multi-generational teams, we must dispose of these myths and treat millennials as smart, innovative and conscientious individuals who are dedicated to changing business for the better.
Stereotype #1: They’re entitled.
One of the most frustrating misconceptions of all is that millennials are lazy and expect to be handed a career without paying their dues. In a 2015 article, the New York Post cited a recent study finding that 71 percent of American adults consider millennials selfish, and 65 percent find them entitled.
“Millennials seem to have helped themselves to an extra portion at the entitlement buffet (which is all-you-can-eat, obviously, because it’s their right),” wrote Post columnist Mackenzie Dawson.
The truth is that millennials are eager to work hard, as long as they are empowered to do so efficiently and on their own terms. They may eschew bureaucracy and the status quo, but a 2014 Bentley Universityfound that 77 percent of millennials believe flexible hours are the key to better productivity and 89 percent regularly check work email outside normal work hours.
“I recognize that hard work will get me far in my career, but I understand the importance of balance and moderation that will lead to a happy life,” said millennial writer Erin Heilman in a recent op-ed for the Baltimore Sun.
Stereotype #2: They lack critical skills.
Many supervisors believe that the lack of basic skills is killing America’s young professionals. “The more I interact with millennials -- whether I'm interviewing them, overseeing internships or giving speeches to rooms of them -- the more I see it. It's an entire generation that doesn't know how to communicate,” proclaimed theSilent Partner Marketing blog.
“Little emperor syndrome is one of the primary reasons millennials lack soft skills. Adults have catered to their needs their entire lives,” explained Heather Anderson in the Credit Union Times Magazine. Nobody locked them out of the house and forced them to entertain themselves, building imagination, curiosity and trial-by-error decision making skills.”
But, according to 2015 research conducted by DeVry University’sCareer Advisory Board, the skills gap for entry and junior-level professionals is narrowing. Hiring managers are increasingly finding desirable skills like flexibility, business acumen, problem-solving and communication skills in millennial candidates.
Millennials also bring innovation expertise, which is critical for organizations to remain competitive in the 21st century business world. And, as businesses rely more and more on technology, millennial digital natives help companies navigate the space.
For the rest of this article, a collaboration between Yarden Tadmor of SwitchApp and myself, head over to Entrepreneur.com.