This week saw yet another highly sensationalised write up on Millennials in the workplace, and, you guessed it, it pissed me off. I read it thinking “here we go again…” as mainstream media rolled out the same old weak, highly generalised and un-researched narrative––and in this case––with zero regard to its relevance to the actual topic of conversation.
An article published by News.com was the source of my frustration. The guts of the article––very loosely––touches on an important Human Resources issue of why a good chunk of Generation Y aren’t making it past their probation period in a new role. Unfortunately, the damage is already done with the headline; if you want to waste 7 minutes of your life you can read the article here.
It’s a good subject for discussion and it very well needs to be discussed. But not in this way!
First paragraph, a statement about Millennials’ struggle to make it past their 90-day trial is accompanied by a partial-quote from HR expert, Greg Weiss. Weiss says the struggle to keep a job is due to Millennials pursuing their “own goals”, along with a clunky segue into how that’s causing absenteeism and tardiness. The article then goes on to cite facts from studies backing up this accusation––from surveys in 2015! Ahem, figures from 4 years ago!
Mr. Weiss is a man whose opinions I respect given his experience in HR. What I can’t respect is the blatant sensationalism this article uses as a vehicle for his point. Coincidentally, Mr. Weiss’ saleable product, onboarding, is referenced quite heavily in the article also.
Let’s go back to those outdated references. Weiss refers to a research study from 2015, citing the lack of staff retention is costing us $3.6billion annually in loss of productivity. Yes, this is a problem, it was in 2015, and it is likely it’s a similar problem now, but is this problem due to Millennials being “lazy and entitled”? To me it’s more a HR and recruitment problem. Shaming an entire generation isn’t helpful regardless.
When we see figures like that––from 2015, or from today––what we need to be questioning, rather than Millennial behaviour in the workplace, is are employers misrepresenting their roles, providing inappropriate training and hiring incorrectly?!
According to the 2016 Productivity Commission, workplace bullying is costing Australia up to $36billion annually, due to loss of productivity. Bullying is a much bigger productivity problem in my eyes. Don’t you think, News.com and Mr. Weiss?
The chief problem I have with this article (and so many like it) is the relationship between what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.
Not only are they wrongly labeling Millennials as lazy and entitled––yawn–– and saying this is the reason they’re not making it past their probation without any real stats to prove this, they’re also giving false facts into why they’re leaving jobs.
The article states, boldly,
“Younger people are also more likely to quit voluntarily.” Weiss goes onto say “Younger people will typically say, it’s not as great as I want, not as exciting, you’re underpaying…”
Um Weiss, Where are these actual facts from?
Weiss is blaming social media––yawn again. Saying how Millennials are looking at each others’ “highlight reels” imagining the grass is greener. And that’s when they quit their jobs. Um?
I find it very difficult to believe that any person, Millennial or not, would be ill-informed enough to quit a job because they saw something on social media that gave them an idea they could do better. I find this ridiculous, and downright irresponsible.
And not only is the narrative itself lazy. But it’s wrong.
Yes, in some cases, Millennials are having problems getting past the 90-day probation, but is it entirely their fault? I’ve seen plenty of hiring mistakes in my lengthy career in HR and recruitment, and it isn’t always on the recruit. A lot of the time it’s on the employer misrepresenting the role and/or hiring the wrong people ––either for the role itself or for their culture and specifically values.
It’s on employers to understand a role, recruit responsibly and then invest the time in inducting, training, and rewarding correctly to get a Millennial (or any other employee) over the line and into that sweet commitment stage. This is our responsibility as employers. Not the other way around.
And when it comes to Millennials I refuse to believe they are leaving roles early because they see something better––and if they are, well bloody good on them I say!
There’s no point me deliberating on this when I have done the research though.
In my very recent research study, I surveyed 1000 local Millennials in the workforce and found that 1 in 2 Millennials in today’s Australian workforce are actually staying in jobs longer than 3 years, with 47% of who have stayed with an employer for over 5 years.
That doesn’t say flighty, entitled, or lazy to me, it says “good match”, and “good understanding, when you get it right.”
And the ones that do leave, why are they leaving?
My research found Millennials weren’t actually leaving because they felt entitled to greener pastures, or because they had their own “personal goals” (and why shouldn’t they anyway quite frankly?). The 1000 Australian Millennials in the workforce I surveyed said the number one reason for leaving jobs was due to their shitty relationship with their managers. Followed closely by the shitty ill-fit company culture.
I believe it’s the mainstream media being littered with articles and ill-informed opinion pieces like this that are damaging these integral relationships between managers and Millennials in the workplace. Managers that are in turn responsible for building bad company culture that Millennials aren’t responding to.
Furthermore, it’s lazy of the media and experts like myself Mr. Weiss to keep driving this damaging narrative and expecting Millennials to “toe the line” with our ill-researched, out-dated opinions of their workplace behaviours. Which is why I spent so much time and money on collating my own data.
Because there is a problem, and (up until now) we weren’t doing a good enough job engaging the members of the workforce that will make up 75% of it in just a few years (2025).
And that’s just not good enough.
If we start to shift the blame away from our largest part of the workforce, change the dialogue, report on these things a little differently (more fairly) I believe we’d see a very different response from Millennials. Perhaps our shamed generation would have somewhere to settle their aspirations and drive our businesses toward success with their unique skills and strong commercial acumen.
Maybe if we started reporting on the facts and seeing them for what they really are––our future leaders––instead of the Millennials Mr. Weiss and News.com report on:
“Frankly at the millennial end they’re just lazy, and I mean that genuinely.”
Lazy reporting. Shame on you.
Written by Emily Jaksch, the Millennial Whisperer…