Debunking 4 myths about millennials

When dealing with millennials, take a tip from Pizza Hut: Don’t focus too much on them as a homogenous group.

The pizza chain, in an attempt to lure and placate the Gen-Y’ers as customers, rolled out a menu of specialty pizzas that included gourmet buzz-ingredients such as Peruvian cherry peppers, toasted Asiago crust and honey Sriracha sauce.

The result: The millennials were unimpressed, leaving Pizza Hut with sagging sales, a need to recalibrate its marketing strategy, and perhaps a richer (or maybe a murkier) understanding of that crop of consumers.

How do you lure and placate millennials as employees? Hopefully, no different than any of your other workers. It matters because, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials will constitute half of the U.S. workforce within five years. You got some now; there are more coming.

Here are four myths about millennials in the workplace:

1. They need to be perpetually rewarded (aka given a trophy) to keep them engaged and in the game. Do you really think that these folks are linking their career obligations to the 14 half-forgotten, mostly plastic trophies they got from the U-6 through U-13 soccer leagues? Yes, they want recognition, but so do all the other employees—when it’s genuinely deserved. It truly is sweeter that way.

2. They’re using your company as a stepping stone, and in a short time, will be looking for a better job elsewhere. This could be true for two reasons that have little to do with their age: (1) The pay is unbearably low; (2) they don’t like the boss. Remember, employees for the most part don’t leave jobs, they leave bad bosses—and weird workplaces, caused by bad bosses.

3. They use gadgets and social media to the detriment of the organization. Although partially true, their use of technology is rarely a hindrance to the employer. I’ve never met one millennial who would not lend a hand to a digitally dazed co-worker who needed a little e-help.

4. They expect management to ensure their success in their jobs. This myth stems from the fact that as kids, this bunch was virtually surrounded by adults (parents, coaches, karate instructors, cello teachers, etc.) who would not allow the “F” word. Fail, that is. A well-groomed, rigidly tutored childhood does not necessarily make a spoiled employee. They know the deal. Give them meaningful work, growth opportunities and fair treatment.

And keep the pizza traditional. Everyone will enjoy it.


Cal Butera is the editor of Business Management Daily’s Office Manager Today, Manager’s Legal Bulletin, Managing People at Work and Communication Briefings newsletters. He has been with Business Management Daily since 2007 and worked 22 years for midsize daily newspapers as sports writer, news reporter, layout and design editor, copy editor and city editor.