Millennials are lazy and entitled workers. Or are they?

“Millennials are lazy and entitled”. It’s a complaint that I keep hearing from other company founders and managers when they talk about millennials’ working habits.

Maybe they’re not lazy.

Often it’s because you’re not effectively managing, communicating or motivating them. Simply put, millennials aren’t lazy at all. Here are some reasons why.

What are millennials?

The dictionary definition of a millennial is: a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. Basically, it’s a cohort of the world’s population who were born somewhere between 1980 to the mid-1990s. Cohorts are really useful to demonstrate trends, but they are a generalisation.

I’m not going to focusing on the millennial cohort, but the changing nature of the workforce. I just used the term millennial to get your attention!

They want to work on something they believe in

They want to make a difference.

In the west, they have grown up in a world of abundance. They are less “thankful” than the baby boomers of the world after World War II. This has created a culture of being more selective about what people spend their time working on. After all, work accounts for a significant portion of one’s life.

Purpose-led companies out-performed the S&P 500 by 10 times between 1996 and 2011. We have all seen the staggering success of Apple over the last 15 years. Simon Sinek did an amazing TED Talk which dives in to how Apple’s “Why” has given them the edge over the competition.

The work is boring and they don’t understand the point in it.

Maybe that’s because there is no point in it.

This might be blunt, but do you have a mission and vision of where you want your company be in 5 years time? If you don’t, how can you expect your employees to follow you. They want to do something they are passionate about. That comes from the leadership.

They believe in living, not working

People want a cool working environment, not cubicles. This makes them feel relaxed, more likely to collaborate and most importantly, more productive. Money isn’t the primary motivator for staff anymore, so one way to entice the modern workforce is by having a great working environment. This might mean a fantastic office environment but it can also mean using new working methodologies like scrum and kanban.

Office working

They want to learn by doing

The internet has made the worlds information available to everyone. This has affected the way people learn and research. Interestingly, the most important way people want to learn is from mentors and other colleagues. This is because they can do e-learning themselves. Whilst a mentor or colleague can help them be involved in the process, it builds confidence in decisions, and gives them something they can’t just get online.

Base: All graduates

9-5 doesn’t work any more

There has been a huge cultural shift in the way we work. Technology has meant we can be mobile while working. We can work out of coffee shops, we can work on the go, at home or remotely on a beach in Thailand. There are some companies that are completely remote and don’t have an office space.

To enable this change, you need a flexible structure that enables that. You need communication systems in place to enable people not being in the same place at the same time.

Is the change positive?

Does it even matter if you preferred 9-5 working in cubicles? No, what matters is the effectiveness of your workforce. You need your staff to be happy, motivated and the drive to do their best for your company. Being adaptive to the changes in lifestyle will help you achieve that.

Stuart Logan

Stuart Logan

The CEO of Twine. Follow him on Twine and on Twitter @stuartlogan – As the Big Boss, Stuart spends his days in a large leather armchair, staring out over the Manchester skyline while smoking a cigar and plotting world domination. (He doesn’t really). Originally from Salisbury, UK, he studied computer science at Manchester University but was always keen to break into the exciting world of start-ups, and was involved in a number of ventures before finalising his plans for Twine. When not wearing his chief executive hat (metaphorically speaking) he enjoys harbouring unrealistic expectations for Manchester United’s future success and live music.