Last year, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek went viral via a 15-minute interview where he not only criticized everything millennials do but also made them look like a shallow and dumbed down generation that only care about social media and likes. The exact words Sinek used to describe millennials were ‘entitled’, ‘narcissistic’, self-interested’, ‘unfocused’, and ‘lazy’.
However, hiring millennials is no longer an option big corporations can ignore. Refusing to hire millennials means refusing to allow your company to expand and reinvent itself. What many big corporations are still yet to realize is that hiring young people can be massively beneficial (as discussed below). Not just that, but according to a study done by Pew Research Centre, there are currently more millennials than boomers. So unless companies wish to be a team of 50-something-year-olds, they’re going to have to start hiring younger employees.
On the topic of why millennials aren’t doing well in the workplace, Sinek says it’s because of four characteristics: ‘parenting’, ‘technology’, ‘impatience’ and ‘environment.’ Sinek goes on to explain himself, blaming parents for spoiling the children, blaming technology for teaching them addiction at a young age, blaming the need for success because it makes them impatient and blaming the corporate environment for not being built to accommodate unconfident, selfish and impatient employees.
Here is why corporate entities need to welcome the newest members of the workforce into their companies.
Almost every negative article written on the subject of millennials references entitlement. When in reality, entitlement is not always a negative characteristic. The truth is, entitled people have a strong drive for success. When passionate about something, entitled people stop at nothing to get it. This works well in climbing the position ladder or ticking off company goals. A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that entitlement, in small doses, boosts creativity. Lynne C. Vincent, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management says, “our results suggest that people who feel more entitled value being different from others, and the greater their need for uniqueness, the more they break convention, think divergently and give creative responses”. So really, not entitled, just different.
The truth is, whether people acknowledge it or not, millennials are simply way more technologically advanced than previous generations. Research suggests that millennials are the most educated generation to enter the workforce. They’re also continually developing new skills throughout their career life. A company not only benefits but also saves time when hiring people fully capable of understanding how technology and social media works, what trends are in and how to attract customers’ attention through new techniques.
In some cases, companies fail because of the lack of creative thinking and lack of knowledge of what the market needs. Millennials are great for bringing in fresh ideas and perspectives into the workplace. For companies that target younger customers, hiring millennials is an asset. This youthful group can also teach their older coworkers how to balance their work and personal life, as research reinforces that they are better at coping, with 92% of millennials revealing they are happy at work. So perhaps asking for bean bags and free food, what Sinek claims all millennials ask for at work, is not a bad idea after all.
The only reason millennials have it more challenging than other generations is because they’re currently the youngest in the workforce. Previous generations can often find it hard to welcome them into the team, finding their different attitude alarming and tough to manage. So when videos like Simon Sinek’s come out, claiming to have “figured out” why millennials don’t succeed in the workplace, it is only because people tend to point out how others are different instead of accepting that not everyone's the same.