The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Debunking the Millennials Myth


Millennials are the workforce of today – and as many in my world know – some of my favorite team members. They were born post 1981, and have seen an awful lot in their lives. Think about it, Millennials have seen the incorporation of technology into our daily lives, lived through 9/11 and the crash of the economy in 2008. Many saw loyal hardworking parents lose their job through no fault of the own, know what it means to be “upside down” in a mortgage and have enormous student debt. There aren’t many of us who have lived through that in our first 30 years. And most importantly – they are 40% of the workforce today, and increasingly seen at top levels in organizations. So, let’s stop talking about Millennials as an issue, and embrace the new workforce for what they bring.

Celebrate Millennials!

In my first HR consulting firm, I only hired millennials. Today, I talk about hiring millennials in my program, Where’s Waldo. We review great interviewing techniques that helps to differential the great candidates from those that would not work for your team. It doesn’t matter the generation of the candidate, it’s the manager and human resources role to find the candidate with the right skills to fit the role and the organization.

Millennials have characteristics that I value and expect in all candidates. Review the list below, its descriptive of what we see in millennial workers.millennials

  • quick to get a job done
  • research oriented to get answers to questions and move on
  • value work life balance
  • understand commitment to a team
  • looking ahead to build a path for the future
  • constantly wanting to learn and grow
  • unbounded reach when looking for resources

Doesn’t that describe every employee you’d love to have on your team? Yes, some millennials are lazy, entitled and disengaged. But I bet you can think of people in all generations that have those characteristics. They aren’t just millennials!

Time for an attitude adjustment

In my first book, Fire HR Now, I have a funny story about the 1960’s. Think about the leaders back then. They looked at their candidates as a group of hippies wanting to come into the workplace and thought it was crazy! They had long hair, wore loose fitting clothes, smoked pot…and imagine – they listened to the Beatles! They wouldn’t possibly do a full day’s work. What’s happening now… we can’t get rid of them! The hippies of the 1960’s are working well into their 70’s, and having careers they never dreamed were possible. So, enough about millennials and their bad work ethic. They know what you are thinking and hear what you say…. maybe that’s why they are moving on from your organization.

Getting engaged with millennials now

While they do tend to “think they know it all”, they offer all of us the confident feeling they have to participate in conversations sharing a view of an issue that others would have never thought of.  When their idea won’t work – there is often a piece of the suggestion that causes the group to alter the original assumption. Focused on a desire to move ahead, they are sponges that will happily soak up what the team has to offer as feedback, and use that input to move initiatives forward. And… think of the technology skills they bring to your office that you never even knew existed!

Build your team

You can’t avoid having a workplace full of millennials, or you won’t have a workplace. Instead think of all the good things they can bring, and embrace them for their skills. Yes, they like to shine, so give them projects to complete and be the star. Millennials are here to stay – and will likely be engaged in the workplace for a long time to come. And if your have anyone on your team that is not adding value, providing top talent and driving your mission forward – make a change. They are the workforce of the future, and if you hire the right ones you’ll hope they never leave. Much like the hippies of the 1960’s!

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!
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