Are Employers Stigmatizing Millennial Employees?

By Joe Issid
Monster Contributing Writer

A friend recently approached me and asked for my opinion on a work-related issue. She had interviewed several candidates for an administrative role within her company and had just met a very strong applicant, to whom she wanted to offer the job. However, she was reluctant to do so. Her reason: the candidate was born in the 1990s.
To be honest, this is not the first time that I have seen employers hesitate when confronted with the option of hiring a Millennial. Yes, it is true that each generation may look at the next with some scorn, but there seems to be more inherent distrust towards Millennials than there may have been towards Gen-Xers.
Is there a growing stigma concerning Millennial workers in today’s job market? And what can be done to overcome these possible biases?
Lack of loyalty?
There is a widespread notion that Millennials lack the degree of loyalty that Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers exhibited towards their employers. And the raw numbers seem to suggest this is true. A 2013 survey revealed that 45% of companies experience high turnover when hiring Millennials, at a rate of 2:1 when compared to Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. Furthermore, roughly 60% of Millennials are leaving their respective employers in less than three years and, according to a Deloitte survey, 70% of Millennials envision working for themselves at some point during their careers. Naturally, traditional employment structures may begin feeling somewhat threatened if the risk of losing these employees remains so high.
Reckless approach
Some employers and older workers feel that Millennials approach their careers with a sense of recklessness and impatience that is unmatched by previous generations. Such impressions can certainly cloud the perception of many Millennials who are out on the job hunt. However, research shows that Millennials are not actually guilty of some of these traits. According to the 2014 Yconic Youth Employment Study, “…young people recognize that they are looking for work experience. This was the most frequently cited when we asked what they were working towards career-wise in the next 2-3 years.” This suggests that Millennials are forward-thinking and very much involved in long-term planning for their futures. Tellingly, only 11% of those surveyed said they were actively looking for higher paying job.
Aggressive demands
“Millenials want access to extended leaves, flexible work hours and paid training,” according to a recent report by the HR Council. “These expectations and preferences need to be recognized when hiring and working with this generation.” Yes, when compared with Gen-Xers (and most assuredly Baby Boomers), Millennials can certainly come across as more demanding from the get-go. So, why are employers accepting these demands? The answer is simple: basic economics. In 2015, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers and become the largest living generation; as such, companies are going to need to keep their employee bases full when the Baby Boomers suddenly fall off into retirement. However, that is not to say that Millennials have little to offer; in fact, quite the contrary. Millennials are highly tech-savvy, collaborative, diverse and ambitious. And they know it.
Unhappy workers?
Given the high attrition rates among Millennials, it may certainly seem that they are not terribly satisfied with their professional lives. However, it appears they are, in fact, possibly the happiest people out there: “Millennials aged 25 to 29 who work full time, 42% say they are ‘very happy’ with their lives.” Additionally, Millennials are also, on the whole, extremely optimistic. According to the Yconic survey, “Seven in ten current post-secondary college and university students said they were somewhat or very optimistic about their job prospects upon graduation.”
Are Millennials misunderstood by curmudgeonly Gen-Xers?  Maybe. It is always difficult for a parent to concede to their children and that is exactly what is happening on the job front. Friends of mine are looking to hire their friend’s children and it is making them uncomfortable. We can look to the numbers and try to determine the best course of action. But, considering the sheer volume of Millennials lining up for jobs, we better start evaluating them as valuable talent; soon we won’t have a choice: by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials.
My advice: Hire the best candidate, regardless of when they were born.