It’s no secret that Generation Y workers (a.k.a. Millennials) don’t exactly have the best reputation in the workplace. Perhaps you’ve heard some of the following comments made about this generation, born in the 1980s and ‘90s:
"They don’t want to pay their dues."
"They act so entitled."
"All they want to do is play on Facebook."
No stereotype is ever 100% true, and lots of people have good things to say about today’s young workers, but these negative perceptions are definitely out there. Do Millennials have a lot to learn? Yeah, probably. Will Millennials outgrow their quirks? Maybe. But my belief is that companies that act now to take advantage of Gen Y’s strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses will have a major talent advantage today and into the future.
Here are five reasons you need Millennials at your company right now:
1. They are effortlessly tech-savvy. Many of today’s young people clicked a mouse before they turned the pages of a book. Gen Y employees are eager and excited to share their expertise about technology, and it makes them feel valued when you ask for their help. You’ll never miss out on the next big technology trend (social networking, Twittering, wikis) as long as you have Millennials around.
2. They are capable of super-productivity. When I meet college students, I am consistently impressed by all of their involvements. They manage academics, extra curriculars, sports and jobs—and still never miss a single text message. When young people are engaged by their employers, they’ll use their multi-tasking talents and super-productivity on behalf of your company.
3. They’re happy to serve as a free focus group. One of the most marked characteristics of Generation Y is their self-regard (okay, okay, "entitlement"). Instead of complaining about this, use it to your advantage. Ask Gen Ys for their opinions and suggestions regarding trends, marketing messages, customer service, competitors or anything else. An outspoken Gen Y might save you from a big blunder with the hot demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds.
4. They will make your organization more environmentally conscious. If you can’t hire Al Gore, the next best thing is a Millennial. A recent MonsterTRAK poll found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment, and 92% would be more inclined to work for a company that's environmentally friendly. If you’ve been meaning to launch a company recycling effort, ask a Millennial to lead the way.
5. They will recruit their most talented friends. Gen Y-ers see very little boundary between work and life, so they love to work with their friends. If you’re a good employer, your young employees will spread the word and help you recruit their most talented peers. That beats recruiting on the Internet any day.
The above reasons are all based on my experience with Millennials and my observation of their comments in blogs and media articles. No list of five facts can fully define a generation, but if you pay attention to the above, you’ll ensure that your organization is full of the best and the brightest young workers. Please share your experience and suggestions about working with Millennials in the comments section below!
Lindsey Pollak is a career advice author and speaker based in New York.